A Million Ways to Die in the West
Of all the demises suggested by the title of “A Million Ways to Die in the West,” at least 700,000 have to be fart-related. At any rate, no self-respecting statistician would tell you otherwise after examining the sample director, screenwriter and star Seth MacFarlane chooses to display in his latest movie.
Written by MacFarlane, Alec Sulkin, Wellesley Wild and a horde of sixth-grade boys (probably), “A Million Ways to Die in the West” is not a movie that deals in subtleties or sharpness. Most of its stabs at humor rely on visual, or in the case of flatulence — auditory, gags that come cheap and easy. The others take the form of the Seth MacFarlane Show. The oft-maligned comedian holds true to his stereotypes throughout with his constant look-at-me, smart ass shtick.
But after embracing the crude stupidity of it all “A Million Ways to Die” is not a total wash. A long intro of gorgeous, sweeping shots of the American West underscored by the soaring, high-adventure music of classic Westerns makes this mindset difficult right off the bat, but the sooner the audience taps into their inner middle-schoolers, the better off they will be.
The plot is fine — if secondary to gags — and most of the actors are great. MacFarlane plays Albert, a cowardly sheep farmer disillusioned with life on the frontier who finally finds something to fight for in the beautiful, mysterious newcomer Anna (Charlize Theron). Her past gets in the way when her outlaw husband (Liam Neeson) comes to blah blah blah farts.
Neil Patrick Harris shines as the narcissistic dandy of the local mustache emporium who steals Albert’s first girl, and Sarah Silverman is great as the saloon prostitute who wants to wait until marriage with her boyfriend. These two offer some of the cleverer jokes of the film.
Unfortunately, those sharp bits are severely outnumbered. But that doesn’t doom the film as long as the viewer has the right attitude. You just have to face the farts, MacFarlane does.
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