Wednesday, June 18, 2014

"A Million Ways to Die in the West" Review - Written by Jim Herling

"Damn you, damn the broccoli, and damn the Wright Brothers!"

With that line from the pilot episode of Family Guy way back in 1998, Seth MacFarlane had me. I've been a fan of his through everything he's ever done (except for American Dad but hey, nobody's perfect). I thought Ted was one of the funniest movies I'd ever seen. So of course I was absurdly excited to see A Million Ways to Die in the West.

And I was mildly disappointed. But I'll get to that in a minute.

Seth MacFarlane wrote and directed the movie and he also stars in it, playing Albert, a man living in a small town on the American frontier in 1842 who Hayes everything about that life and it's high and creative mortality rates. His girlfriend Louise, played by Amanda Seyfried ably enough although she isn't given much to do, leaves him for Foy, the legendary-as-ever Neil Patrick Harris at his scene-stealing, scenery-chewing best. In an attempt to win her back, he gets involved with Charlize Theron's Anna, who is married to the wonderfully named Clinch Eastwood, the deadliest man in the West who is brought to life by Liam Neeson, who chews just as much scenery as NPH. Seriously, between the two of them it's a wonder any of the sets survived. Giovanni Ribisi and Sarah Silverman also star in funny but ultimately unimportant supporting roles.

Now onto my disappointment. It isn't that the movie isn't funny, because it is; at times it's downright hysterical. It has everything you'd expect from a Seth MacFarlane production: raunchy, irreverent jokes; cutaway gags; brilliant cameos; and of course an amazing musical number. There's even a mind-blowing dream sequence that is so funny it left my girlfriend in tears. The while movie is completely Seth MacFarlane and, for me, that was the problem. As a leading actor he just doesn't do it for me. When it comes to voice work he's obviously great, and he'd be just as good as a supporting actor, but as the star of the whole piece in a live-action movie, his acting left me cold. He was great at sarcasm and comedy but couldn't hold it down when it came to the other emotions he needed to display. He wasn't bad enough to run the movie or anything but he definitely detached from it a bit.

In short, this movie is everything you'd expect from Seth MacFarlane and if that's something you like, then this movie is for you. If that isn't something you'd like, well, I can't help you. Out of 5 stars, I'd give it a strong 3.5.

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