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A Million Ways To Die In The West

June 5, 2014

A Million Ways to Die in the West (** ½) R

Family Guy creator Seth McFarlane is back with his second big-screen outing A Million Ways to Die in the West, and it’s kind of surprising. Surprising because one would have expected an immediate sequel to his 2012 multiplex debut Ted instead of this purported homage to Mel Brooks’ 1974 classic Blazing Saddles. McFarlane, however, had other plans but it’s pretty clear he probably should have stuck with revisiting Ted territory instead of insisting on this film as his next project. It isn’t that A Million Ways is God-awful, mind you, but only that it doesn’t contain even half the gags in his first film, which poses a problem for his fans who are excited to see the latest trick up McFarlane’s sleeve. Instead, the end result resembles an unused script from one of his multiple television shows that has been stretched to feature length. The laughs are there from time to time but not enough to justify a 116-minute length.

The film’s script comes courtesy of McFarlane and his Ted co-writer Alec Sulkin. Sulkin and McFarlane give us Albert (McFarlane), as the film’s protagonist. Albert backs out of a gunfight at the beginning of the film, which prompts his girlfriend, Louise (Amanda Seyfried), to break up with him. Albert spends much of the time thereafter bemoaning that fact, the limitations of life in the wild west, and his choice of career as a shepherd.

Neil Patrick Harris & McFarlane in ‘A Million Ways...’

He comes across as a wild west stand-up comic with his observations.

Just when life looks to be at its most bleak for Albert, into town comes Anna (Charlize Theron), who just happens to be married to the notorious gunslinger Clinch (Liam Neeson). Anna and Albert develop a mutual attraction to one another along the way but are forced to deal with the obvious problems at hand that will certainly keep the two apart.

One of the attributes of the film is how it manages to work in pop cultural references that also are rooted in the wild west, thus keeping the film in its own time period. Several amusing cameos are certain to put a smile on filmgoer’s faces of a certain age. There’s also the inspired casting of Sarah Silverman as a prostitute who has never had sex with her boyfriend and Gilbert Gottfried’s brief appearance as Abraham Lincoln to boot. Stay through the final credits for yet another great cameo (that’s all I’m saying).

The major problem with the film is simply that it just isn’t funny enough for too much of the time. It has a really sweet nature going for it that allows it to coast farther along than it really should but that isn’t enough to save it or to overcome the miscasting of McFarlane in the lead role. Personally, I’m hoping that McFarlane will step up his game when Ted 2 rolls into theaters next year.

A Million Ways To Die in the West is playing everywhere.

Questions or comments? Write Adam at filmfan1970@hotmail.com.

 

 

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