The brains and funny bone behind Family Guy and Ted has stepped in front of the camera to star in this comedy teaching you there are A Million Ways to Die In The West.
Seth MacFarlane stars as Albert – the worst sheep farmer and cowboy you have ever met. He’s kind of cowardly, which is why his girlfriend, Louise (Amanda Seyfried), has decided to dump him for the owner of the local moustachery, Foy (Neil Patrick Harris).
Yet, a new stranger in town, Anna (Charlize Theron), takes a liking to Albert and decides to help him win back the love of his life. Of course, as the two of them get to know each other, her past could threaten his future as the romantic sparks fly.
A Million Ways to Die In The West is a good concept. As one of the writers and the director of the movie, MacFarlane’s best jokes come from that crazy, yet very true statement as we see all of the ways someone can die in the godforsaken dirt bowl that is the Wild Wild West. It’s a horrible place full of disease, misery and misfortune vividly and hilariously brought to life. Like they say in the movie, it is a land where everything that isn’t you wants to kill you.
That’s the smart part of the movie, and the moments that make the film memorable and enjoyable.
The rest of A Million Ways To Die In The West goes for the juvenile and disgusting, which might thrill his fan base, but doesn’t highlight MacFarlane’s strengths. The best jokes are the ones that make this a parody of Westerns, and allow MacFarlane, who is kind of an anti-John Wayne, to take the lead and make us laugh as we watch the most awkward, bumbling guy on screen become our hero. He’s kind of like a cowboy version George Costanza, and that is worth many laughs.
MacFarlane is a likable lead actor because he doesn’t have the bravado or chiseled jaw of a typical leading man. He fills the nice guy character with lots of niceness and neuroses, which makes it ALMOST believable that Charlize Theron would fall for him. Almost.
Yet, we get subjected to plenty of gross out and potty humor that feels forced and inserted into the movie because it is expected from this creative team, instead of truly fitting into the movie’s theme and structure.
I wish A Million Ways To Die In The West could have kept up the comedy, but it slows down too much towards the end as the film shifts to being a typical western, complete with the ultimate showdown on a dusty street full of tumbleweeds. Going conventional wasn’t the best move for this tale and makes it kind of average.
A Million Ways to Die In The West is rated R for strong crude and sexual content, language throughout, some violence and drug material.