Review: A Million Ways to Die in the West (2014, Seth MacFarlane)

a-million-ways-to-die-in-the-westRATING: 5/10

Director: Seth MacFarlane
Cast: Seth MacFarlane, Charlize Theron, Amanda Seyfried, Niel Patrick Harris, Liam Neeson, Sarah Silverman, Giovanni RIbisi, Christopher Hagen
Screenplay: Seth MacFarlane, Alec Sulkin & Wellesley Wild

After the release of “Ted” back in 2012, it seemed that Seth MacFarlane was a comedy master. His controversial stint as the host of that year’s Academy Awards ceremony, along with an Oscar nomination for “Ted’s” theme song “Everybody Needs a Best Friend”, excitement arouse when he announced his second comedy film called “A Million Ways to Die in the West”. With MacFarlane’s animated TV track record and his previous film’s grasp on humour, in no way did I anticipate such a dud that “A Million Ways to Die in the West” turned out to be. The film was sadly a shame, with a good ensemble having to work with such a bland script that only featured very minimal funny moments.

The originality of Seth MacFarlane was never in question. True he loved to have pop culture references in almost everything he does (especially on his TV shows like “Family Guy” etc.) but even with that, this film was mediocre at worst. In the leading role of Albert, MacFarlane takes on his first real film role (as leading man) as the lonely sheep farmer who is dumped by his girlfriend (Amanda Seyfried, the Goddess of Bland) for a richer douche (Neil Patrick Harris). It isn’t long till Albert meets the sexy quick shooter Anna (Charlize Theron) who teaches him how to get his girl back.

Truly, the most unfortunate thing about the film is Seth MacFarlane’s self-aware direction. With the success of “Ted”, it seemed that Mr. MacFarlane, a man with a natural funny bone, tried too hard to live up to par with his previous work. It isn’t a bad thing to want to do something better, but in the case of this film, the movie was just way to ambitious and things just “went south real fast” (sorry for the reference). In addition to his direction, MacFarlane and his co-writer’s screenplay was just unfunny at times. It didn’t help the cheap aesthetic of the production design and the laziness of the costume designer. You’d think a man so intrigued with pop culture phenomenon would go crazy with his Western, but the film didn’t only feel flat but it looked flat as well.

Oscar winning actress Charlize Theron was not as bad as I thought she would be. But her role is so generic, and truly forgettable. Any actress could have played it. Neil Patrick Harris and Sarah Silverman were the standouts because these two always get away by playing the same old caricatures of themselves (at least to a certain extent here). All I can say is that they were entertaining, and by no surprise provided the most laughs in the almost two hour Western/Comedy escapade. One person that I truly disked is Amanda Seyfried. I swear, I never understood the fuss over her. She is one of the blandest, most ridiculous creatures Hollywood has every produced. She cannot act, people.

Overall, the film is pretty much forgettable. Unlike “Ted”, no matter how many times I see it playing on HBO, I will stop and watch it. But this film is a sure miss for MacFarlane. He is no Mel Brooks yet and has a lot to learn regarding the language of Cinema. But I hope for the best. He’s still a funny and intelligent guy. After “Ted’s” sequel, maybe a musical would fit him? I think he could flourish in an original, offensive but fun musical. His fans and certainly the fans of the actors he loves to use will eat that right up. Here’s to hoping!

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