A Million Ways to Forget Seth MacFarlane
Family Guy and Ted creator Seth MacFarlane has built an successful comedic empire around shock value. Whether a fan of his or not, you have to admit, he knows exactly what he’s doing as a comedian. The same cannot be said for his latest film, A Million Ways to Die in the West.
In A Million Ways to Die in the West, MacFarlane steps from behind the veil of his slew of raunchy animated characters. As a timid sheep farmer named Albert, his character is going through a rough patch. His vain girlfriend Louise (Amanda Seyfried) is bored with him, moving on to the town’s egotistical mustache expert, Foy (Neil Patrick Harris). Albert’s world conveniently turns upside down when Charlize Theron as a good-hearted gunslinger arrives on the scene.
Had it been executed better, MacFarlane could have made A Million Ways to Die in the West into his modern-day Blazing Saddles. The pieces are certainly present, particularly the loaded ensemble cast. But when there’s just crumbs of content to work with, even the best actors are forced to struggle.
Liam Neeson and Charlize Theron suffer the most from McFarlane’s screenplay. As the main bad guy, Clinch, Neeson isn’t provided an opportunity to generate a memorable performance. His actions throughout are run-of-the-mill villainy. Granted, the film is supposed to be a satire of westerns, but there’s no risks in that sense taken. All that’s on his his mind is killing and vengeance. By the film’s conclusion, there’s no incentive to honestly care or remember.
SEE ALSO: Ted – Review by Zachary Marsh
Theron’s slightly better as gunslinger Anna. She arrives in Old Stump with her own agenda, but quickly takes to Albert. And that’s her whole reason in the film – to get Albert out of his slump. For a film with running gags of toilet humor, there’s little of that actually happening in her direction. When she and Albert go to the county fair, the humor is relentlessly hysterical. The major fault here is they’re simply dull bystanders minus the laughs.
Ironically enough, Seth MacFarlane is weakest part in his own film. First and foremost, he cannot carry a big summer movie just as himself. When he’s voicing Ted or Peter Griffin or Stewie or Brian, he’s always finds ways to deliver strong low-brow comedy. Here, even the most over-the-top toilet humor just can’t quite cut it.
Fart gags and sexual innuendo go so far before they become ineffective. Defecating into hats and phallic shadow puppets are more eye-rolling than funny. And with the film’s tone all over the place from juvenile toilet humor to moments of seriousness, the effect lessens even more.
There’s too much unnecessary content in A Million Ways to Die in the West, making its two hour run time an endless drag. Albert faces just one obstacle too many. Between Foy, Clinch, his confidence, his romantic problems, the list just goes on and on. This sort of excess should’t come as a surprise, particularly after watching a few episodes of Family Guy.
To his credit, the cameos MacFarlane shoehorn into the plot are the film’s highlights. It’s as if A Million Ways to Die in the West is being injected with a dose of momentum every time there’s a cameo. Cheap insertions, yes, but it works to its advantage.
After 2012’s Ted, Seth MacFarlane failed to make lightning strike twice with A Million Days to Die in the West. Being juvenile and ballsy has its limits before wearing out its welcome. And Seth MacFarlane has finally done that.
GRADE: C (2.5/5)
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Matt Marshall is a YouTube movie reviewer who hosts MNMreviews. He has a B.A. in Communications/Journalism from St. John Fisher College and resides in Rochester, NY.