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Review: A Million Ways to Die in the West

May. 30, 2014by: Chris Bumbray

PLOT: A cowardly sheep farmer (Seth MacFarlane) recently dumped by his girlfriend (Amanda Seyfried) can’t believe his luck when he’s befriended by a gorgeous sharp-shooter (Charlize Theron). Little does he know, her husband (Liam Neeson) is a notorious killer bent on killing his wife’s new man.

REVIEW: It can’t be denied that Seth MacFarlane’s humor isn’t for everyone. However, with FAMILY GUY still going strong in the ratings, and his previous film – TED – having raked in hundreds of millions (with a sequel on the way) it can’t be denied the guy has a huge fan base. Having mostly enjoyed TED, I’d consider myself one of them, but if that was the cinematic equivalent of FAMILY GUY, A MILLION WAYS TO DIE IN THE WEST feels more like the spawn of one of its less successful follow-ups, like AMERICAN DAD or THE CLEVELAND SHOW. There are occasional belly laughs, but they are few and far between.

Oddly, despite its raunch and R-rating, A MILLION WAYS TO DIE IN THE WEST has less in common with the great BLAZING SADDLES (which is so good the very idea of making a western comedy after it seems idiotic) and more with the antiquated, quaint humor of something like CAT BALLOU or the Bob Hope comedy THE PALEFACE (to which this actually has a lot of similarities). At its worst, it’s like one of those bad post-BLAZING SADDLES rip-offs, like THE DUCHESS & THE DIRTWATER FOX or – even worse – the BLAZING SADDLES tv adaptation, BLACK BART. Suffice to say, MacFarlane probably made exactly the kind of film he wanted, but whether or not anyone else will find it funny is very much in doubt.

It doesn’t help that MacFarlane has cast himself in the lead. As a voice-actor, he’s aces, but as a straight-up actor, he’s not able to carry a movie. Watching him here is like watching him host the Oscars. He seems way too impressed with himself, especially when he goes off on tangents and seems to be laughing at his own jokes. Heck, the first time he walks (or runs) into the movie it almost looks like he’s expecting applause. This is really the Bob Hope school of acting, and even all the R-rated gags and toilet humor can’t save this from feeling antiquated.

What’s weird is that MacFarlane barely gives anyone else a chance to be funny, with everyone, especially Theron and Liam Neeson playing it absolutely straight. The film occasionally breaks into oddly placed scenes of graphic violence, with heads being caved in, and an old man being gruesomely executed by Neeson – who’s so mean here he even points a gun at a dog! The mixture of almost Sam Peckinpah levels of violence (with a people getting their jugulars slit open and worse) to goofy musical numbers about moustaches is occasionally jarring.

The only other folks in the movie who get to occasionally be funny are Sarah Silverman and Giovanni Ribisi, as a Christian couple saving themselves for marriage, despite the fact that she’s the town prostitute. This gag is pretty funny at the start, but it goes on and on (and on).

A lot of the trouble comes from the fact that MacFarlane is not able to really indulge in the pop-culture driven humor that’s become his stock-in-trade. By being a western, he’s not able to joke about movies or TV, and it’s worth noting that the only two gags that really work are cameos where two actors from well-known westerns reprise their characters for a few seconds. This is obviously an attempt to stretch, but it doesn’t really work, although Theron deserves some praise for making her heroine especially likable, although – again – she’s not given too much of a chance to be funny. The ever-reliable Neil Patrick Harris also has one really funny scene where he finds a novel use for a ten-gallon hat, while his love-interest, Amanda Seyfried, is so underused she barely registers. One can’t help but wonder if the movie would have gone over better if Harris and MacFarlane had swapped roles.

In the end, A MILLION WAYS TO DIE IN THE WEST isn’t bad enough that it’s going to seriously harm MacFarlane’s film career, but it’s a good example of what really doesn’t work for him on the silver-screen. Funny enough, as a director he actually shows a good eye for scenery – much better than in TED – with him getting a lot out of the western locales and the old-timey sagebrush score by Joel McNeely. Sadly, just like TED, the movie goes on way too long, running a nearly oppressive two hours, At ninety-minutes, this would have come off a whole lot better. As it is, A MILLION WAYS TO DIE IN THE WEST is only recommended if you’re a die-hard MacFarlane devotee and think the man can do no wrong.

Source: JoBlo.com

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9:50AM on 06/02/2014

Ugh, it was just bad, and I love Seth...

I am a huge fan of Seth, I love Family Guy/American Dad (RIP) and Cleveland Show (RIP) even Ted was brilliantly funny. But this movie... This was just horrible. It felt like a play, really the first scene set the mood and I thought I was watching a play on a screen. They used about 3-4 different sets over and over, the acting and winks to the audience were really bad and the jokes all fell flat. You knew the jokes before they were made. I laughed maybe three times. Every sentence was a one
I am a huge fan of Seth, I love Family Guy/American Dad (RIP) and Cleveland Show (RIP) even Ted was brilliantly funny. But this movie... This was just horrible. It felt like a play, really the first scene set the mood and I thought I was watching a play on a screen. They used about 3-4 different sets over and over, the acting and winks to the audience were really bad and the jokes all fell flat. You knew the jokes before they were made. I laughed maybe three times. Every sentence was a one liner and the story was trite. Liam Neeson kept switching between three different accents too. The only things that made me smile were the cameos.

Really though, watch the trailer, it has all the funny parts in it and you will save yourself two hours.
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10:10PM on 06/01/2014

I lightly smiled 4 times....

This movie was a piece of shit!....I give it ZERO stars. 0 out of 100.
This movie was a piece of shit!....I give it ZERO stars. 0 out of 100.
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11:26PM on 05/31/2014

Just Saw It

I just got back from seeing this film. I had waited to see it before reading any reviews. I enjoyed "Ted" but I hate "Family Guy" & "The Cleveland Show". So I was very surprised to learn that my reaction was different from yours. I thought it was hilarious, and the momentum was kept alive by the solid performances. Perfect? No. " Blazing Saddles" good? No, but that film is so great it's an impossible task to be just as good. It is fairly funny with a game and good cast
I just got back from seeing this film. I had waited to see it before reading any reviews. I enjoyed "Ted" but I hate "Family Guy" & "The Cleveland Show". So I was very surprised to learn that my reaction was different from yours. I thought it was hilarious, and the momentum was kept alive by the solid performances. Perfect? No. " Blazing Saddles" good? No, but that film is so great it's an impossible task to be just as good. It is fairly funny with a game and good cast
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9:19PM on 05/31/2014
I thought it was hilarious. i laughed really hard, i definately believe it could have been better, however it was stilll a fun time at the movies! I enjoyed it more than xmen. I did feel that mcfarlene was the weakest link but his character and acting grew on me at the film played out.
I thought it was hilarious. i laughed really hard, i definately believe it could have been better, however it was stilll a fun time at the movies! I enjoyed it more than xmen. I did feel that mcfarlene was the weakest link but his character and acting grew on me at the film played out.
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9:22PM on 05/31/2014
9:23PM on 05/31/2014
6:58PM on 05/30/2014
Only a few comedy guys can be in their own movie and make it work. Brooks could, though he usually had small roles or a good ensemble to play off of. Parker and Stone, too.
Only a few comedy guys can be in their own movie and make it work. Brooks could, though he usually had small roles or a good ensemble to play off of. Parker and Stone, too.
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3:36PM on 05/30/2014
Didn't hate the film kinda liked it but not enough to recommend it to anyone. But the film does have a great cameo at the end.
Didn't hate the film kinda liked it but not enough to recommend it to anyone. But the film does have a great cameo at the end.
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-1
12:54PM on 05/30/2014
Was going to go watch it, but then clips started popping up online and they didn't looks promising. I think I'll save my money and wait for something I'd rather see more. But I'll likely still be checking this out on dvd.
Was going to go watch it, but then clips started popping up online and they didn't looks promising. I think I'll save my money and wait for something I'd rather see more. But I'll likely still be checking this out on dvd.
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10:36AM on 05/30/2014
McFarlane has proven he's smart and capable enough to write something for a more mature audience. Everything I've seen screams bare minimum. Like they're just trying to attract mouth-breathers. I feel bad for just about all of the cast .
McFarlane has proven he's smart and capable enough to write something for a more mature audience. Everything I've seen screams bare minimum. Like they're just trying to attract mouth-breathers. I feel bad for just about all of the cast .
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10:13AM on 05/30/2014
Not surprised. The trailers looked terrible and virtually laugh free-the only part I so much as giggled at was when he couldn't shoot a stack of bottles at close range. I respect McFarlane as a voice actor and animation tycoon, but I don't find his transition into film appealing at all-his humor just does not translate outside of cartoons. As a die-hard Family Guy fan, I'm not going to trash him, but this didn't look like a good idea to begin with.
Not surprised. The trailers looked terrible and virtually laugh free-the only part I so much as giggled at was when he couldn't shoot a stack of bottles at close range. I respect McFarlane as a voice actor and animation tycoon, but I don't find his transition into film appealing at all-his humor just does not translate outside of cartoons. As a die-hard Family Guy fan, I'm not going to trash him, but this didn't look like a good idea to begin with.
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10:11AM on 05/30/2014
It was more like a 7/10 and I laughed my ass off. Oh, and there are several cameos that I think people probably missed from some pretty well-known actors. They were blink and you'll miss ones. But yeah, the one right after the end was awesome.
It was more like a 7/10 and I laughed my ass off. Oh, and there are several cameos that I think people probably missed from some pretty well-known actors. They were blink and you'll miss ones. But yeah, the one right after the end was awesome.
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9:38AM on 05/30/2014
It wasn't laugh out loud throughout the whole movie, but still thought it was a good movie overall. 7/10. And the cameo they didn't spoil in the preview was awesome!
It wasn't laugh out loud throughout the whole movie, but still thought it was a good movie overall. 7/10. And the cameo they didn't spoil in the preview was awesome!
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9:32AM on 05/30/2014
TBH it always looked like shit. McFarlane's humor just doesn't translate to the real world for the most part.
TBH it always looked like shit. McFarlane's humor just doesn't translate to the real world for the most part.
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9:22AM on 05/30/2014
So much of the trailers had the characters literally explaining the jokes to us: "OH THAT WENT BAD SO QUICKLY"

I'm not a fucking child, if you have to explain your joke that I just witnessed like it's a Family Guy episode, then it's really not that good
So much of the trailers had the characters literally explaining the jokes to us: "OH THAT WENT BAD SO QUICKLY"

I'm not a fucking child, if you have to explain your joke that I just witnessed like it's a Family Guy episode, then it's really not that good
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11:52AM on 05/30/2014
that's the joke. whether you think it is a good joke or not doesn't change the fact that the purpose isn't to simply explain what you are seeing.
that's the joke. whether you think it is a good joke or not doesn't change the fact that the purpose isn't to simply explain what you are seeing.
5:18PM on 05/30/2014
The line you're referring to, when the ice falls on the guy and MacFarlane says "That went south so fast!" is a TERRIBLE line. Silent reactions or even just gasps would've been sufficient. Less is more sometimes.
The line you're referring to, when the ice falls on the guy and MacFarlane says "That went south so fast!" is a TERRIBLE line. Silent reactions or even just gasps would've been sufficient. Less is more sometimes.
9:16AM on 05/30/2014
Honestly not surprised. Sounds exactly like the movie shown in the previews. But I'm glad NPH gets to show off a little, since he barely had a presence in the trailers. And yes, if he was the lead I probably would already be planning on checking this out. McFarlane, eh, I'm not really a fan.
Honestly not surprised. Sounds exactly like the movie shown in the previews. But I'm glad NPH gets to show off a little, since he barely had a presence in the trailers. And yes, if he was the lead I probably would already be planning on checking this out. McFarlane, eh, I'm not really a fan.
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8:54AM on 05/30/2014
This movie might be OK if it was starring anyone else but Seth McFarlane. Like I can handle his voice acting, but as soon as I see that mug and that grin... No. Just no.
This movie might be OK if it was starring anyone else but Seth McFarlane. Like I can handle his voice acting, but as soon as I see that mug and that grin... No. Just no.
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8:38AM on 05/30/2014
I haven't seen this yet so I don't know, but my guess would be that if this came out pre- McFarlane Oscars, this would be getting better reviews by the majority of critics. And since Chris only ever goes with the majority of critics, he would have given it a better review too.
I haven't seen this yet so I don't know, but my guess would be that if this came out pre- McFarlane Oscars, this would be getting better reviews by the majority of critics. And since Chris only ever goes with the majority of critics, he would have given it a better review too.
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8:32AM on 05/30/2014
Looked terrible from the start. Would be nice if McFarlane didn't try to incorporate so much 'toilet humor' into his films.
Looked terrible from the start. Would be nice if McFarlane didn't try to incorporate so much 'toilet humor' into his films.
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7:45AM on 05/30/2014

Dont understand the hate

Very strange that every Movie Reviewer is not a Family Guy fan or have never seen Family Guy....To me this is a Family Guy episode. I will admit that when I saw the previews, I was going to wait for DVD/Blu Ray, but I got a free screening about a week ago, and my wife and I were pleasantly surprised. We liked this more than Ted. I guess if you dont like Family Guy this isnt the movie for you. 8/10 stars....
Very strange that every Movie Reviewer is not a Family Guy fan or have never seen Family Guy....To me this is a Family Guy episode. I will admit that when I saw the previews, I was going to wait for DVD/Blu Ray, but I got a free screening about a week ago, and my wife and I were pleasantly surprised. We liked this more than Ted. I guess if you dont like Family Guy this isnt the movie for you. 8/10 stars....
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7:26AM on 05/30/2014
Looks like Seth MacFarlane better sticks with animated stuffs.
Looks like Seth MacFarlane better sticks with animated stuffs.
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7:14AM on 05/30/2014
I caught a screening of this a week or so ago, and Mr. Bumbray's thoughts are pretty much in line with how I felt after watching it. It all felt a little too self-indulgent, and the usually solid supporting actors that were in it were vastly underserved. A couple of the cameos were nice, and I smiled here and there. But overall, it was overlong, and much of the humor just felt a bit too forced.
I caught a screening of this a week or so ago, and Mr. Bumbray's thoughts are pretty much in line with how I felt after watching it. It all felt a little too self-indulgent, and the usually solid supporting actors that were in it were vastly underserved. A couple of the cameos were nice, and I smiled here and there. But overall, it was overlong, and much of the humor just felt a bit too forced.
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5:38AM on 05/30/2014
I love all his animated fare, but I agree seeing him on screen just does not work. Even in the stills he looks like hes Mcfarlaning, like look at me I an ubber rich gazzillionaire love me. And his acting is cringe worthy, but who is going to tell the dude paying your salary he can't act. Ah Hollywood.
I love all his animated fare, but I agree seeing him on screen just does not work. Even in the stills he looks like hes Mcfarlaning, like look at me I an ubber rich gazzillionaire love me. And his acting is cringe worthy, but who is going to tell the dude paying your salary he can't act. Ah Hollywood.
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4:28AM on 05/30/2014
"The mixture of almost Sam Peckinpah levels of violence (with a people getting their jugulars slit open and worse) to goofy musical numbers about moustaches is occasionally jarring. ... the movie goes on way too long, running a nearly oppressive two hours, At ninety-minutes, this would have come off a whole lot better."

It'll probably run for 90 minutes on HBO Asia. Ted did.
"The mixture of almost Sam Peckinpah levels of violence (with a people getting their jugulars slit open and worse) to goofy musical numbers about moustaches is occasionally jarring. ... the movie goes on way too long, running a nearly oppressive two hours, At ninety-minutes, this would have come off a whole lot better."

It'll probably run for 90 minutes on HBO Asia. Ted did.
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+1
4:18AM on 05/30/2014

I'll see it at home...

...But I'm not going to buy a ticket. I think McFarlane's skillset is in animated comedy; that's the only reason Ted worked. Some of his jokes are too beyond the pale to believe, and that's why his live action suffers. I'm excited for Ted 2, but I'm not that excited about McFarlane branching out into other genre parodies. Please, do not let this man make a space movie...
...But I'm not going to buy a ticket. I think McFarlane's skillset is in animated comedy; that's the only reason Ted worked. Some of his jokes are too beyond the pale to believe, and that's why his live action suffers. I'm excited for Ted 2, but I'm not that excited about McFarlane branching out into other genre parodies. Please, do not let this man make a space movie...
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+1
2:46AM on 05/30/2014

Maybe 6/10 or 7/10

I saw an early screening as well and enjoyed it overall. Wasn't as funny as TED or as memorable (felt like most of the raunchier jokes were already shown in the Red Band trailer), but I was chuckling through most of it. That is, outside of the (out of place) dramatic scenes between McFarlane and Theron, which were kinda ridiculous in a movie like this. Dude, you've got fart and sex jokes all over the place, don't try to "connect" the characters to boot. I also thought he overdid the shots of
I saw an early screening as well and enjoyed it overall. Wasn't as funny as TED or as memorable (felt like most of the raunchier jokes were already shown in the Red Band trailer), but I was chuckling through most of it. That is, outside of the (out of place) dramatic scenes between McFarlane and Theron, which were kinda ridiculous in a movie like this. Dude, you've got fart and sex jokes all over the place, don't try to "connect" the characters to boot. I also thought he overdid the shots of the gorgeous sunsets and scenery...we get it, you're in a beautiful area but stick to the jokes, buddy. Watch it high and have a blast. Watch it sober and it's more like a video rental, maybe theater screening if you're a real fan of McFarlane. I actually think American Dad is funnier than Family Guy, but dig them both myself.
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3:10AM on 05/30/2014
So you're saying unless the movie-goer is on drugs, they won't like it.....then you give it a 7/10?

Dude, put the bong down......
So you're saying unless the movie-goer is on drugs, they won't like it.....then you give it a 7/10?

Dude, put the bong down......
4:12AM on 05/30/2014
I think he was quite clear, watching this movie while anything but high or buzzed off alcohol is a no go. Why does he have to "put the bong down?"
I think what he said is true for a lot of dumbed-down comedies; it's a good time for those that drink/smoke, but for those that want a comedy that makes you genuinely laugh sober, this isn't the movie to go see.

There, now YOU put the bong down and appreciate a realistic point of view.
I think he was quite clear, watching this movie while anything but high or buzzed off alcohol is a no go. Why does he have to "put the bong down?"
I think what he said is true for a lot of dumbed-down comedies; it's a good time for those that drink/smoke, but for those that want a comedy that makes you genuinely laugh sober, this isn't the movie to go see.

There, now YOU put the bong down and appreciate a realistic point of view.
6:01AM on 05/30/2014
Last night I went to see this. I smoked 2 joints prior to the screening and my buddy, who doesn't smoke weed anymore, was wasted and drank another five beers during the movie and I can tell you than even intoxicated like that, both of us thought it was a pretty shitty movie. Macfarlane should never ever be cast in anything again. Also he likes to get a separate on screen credit for every duty he performed on the movie. The opening credits felt like the opening credits of The Room, but with the
Last night I went to see this. I smoked 2 joints prior to the screening and my buddy, who doesn't smoke weed anymore, was wasted and drank another five beers during the movie and I can tell you than even intoxicated like that, both of us thought it was a pretty shitty movie. Macfarlane should never ever be cast in anything again. Also he likes to get a separate on screen credit for every duty he performed on the movie. The opening credits felt like the opening credits of The Room, but with the name Seth Macfarlane instead of Tommy wiseau.
2:40AM on 05/30/2014

to Chris Bumbray....

it's spelled BLAZING SADDLES with one Z
Thanks
it's spelled BLAZING SADDLES with one Z
Thanks
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2:39AM on 05/30/2014
I'm sure you're right. However American Dad is far better written and has more frequent laughs than Family Guy. Just IMO...and Seth McFarlane's. Also regularly features Patrick Stewart saying things you'd never expect to hear him say :-D
I'm sure you're right. However American Dad is far better written and has more frequent laughs than Family Guy. Just IMO...and Seth McFarlane's. Also regularly features Patrick Stewart saying things you'd never expect to hear him say :-D
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1:35AM on 05/30/2014
The trailers had that whole "trying too hard" vibe that just put me off. Yeah, no big surprise here.
The trailers had that whole "trying too hard" vibe that just put me off. Yeah, no big surprise here.
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1:28AM on 05/30/2014
i still want to see this
i still want to see this
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1:22AM on 05/30/2014
I don't say this out of spite and this does look like it has a good supporting cast, but Seth MacFarlane does strike me as someone who really needs to be knocked down a few pegs.
I don't say this out of spite and this does look like it has a good supporting cast, but Seth MacFarlane does strike me as someone who really needs to be knocked down a few pegs.
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3:12AM on 05/30/2014
He's definitely way too in love with himself.

That said, I did enjoy his hosting of the Oscars. At least he really went after people.....I'm so sick of the ass-kissing celebs they normally get.
He's definitely way too in love with himself.

That said, I did enjoy his hosting of the Oscars. At least he really went after people.....I'm so sick of the ass-kissing celebs they normally get.
1:15AM on 05/30/2014

Most reviews I've read agree with your assessment, Chris

Admittedly, I only find Seth MacFarlane funny in very small doses so I wasn't planning on seeing this flick. But thanks for giving me another reason to avoid it.
Admittedly, I only find Seth MacFarlane funny in very small doses so I wasn't planning on seeing this flick. But thanks for giving me another reason to avoid it.
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1:14AM on 05/30/2014
Disappointing considering the trailers were so funny - I expected it would be better. No surprise about Macfarlane as the lead though - he has a very smug, self-satisfied presence.
Disappointing considering the trailers were so funny - I expected it would be better. No surprise about Macfarlane as the lead though - he has a very smug, self-satisfied presence.
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