“Some people are born into the wrong time and place. This was the American frontier in 1882, a hard land for hard folk. Food was scarce, disease was rampant, and life was a daily struggle for survival… To build a home and a life in this harsh, unforgiving country required that a man be bold, fearless, and tough as iron. The men who were courageous and resilient were the men who prospered. But some men were just big giant pussies.” Which is what A Million Ways to Die in the West is all about. The American western comedy film co-written, produced, and directed by Seth MacFarlane. The film is set in 1882 Arizona and follows a cowardly farmer as he lost his beloved girlfriend as a result of his withdrawal from a duel. He begins to fall for the mysterious new woman in town and he soon realizes his true potential. But he must put his new-found courage to the test when her husband, a notorious gun-slinger, announces his arrival.
The film features an ensemble cast including MacFarlane himself in the lead role, Charlize Theron, Amanda Seyfried, Neil Patrick Harris, Giovanni Ribisi, Sarah Silverman, and Liam Neeson. The film is the perfect example of an ensemble cast's careers hitting a whole new low. The performances in this film were, how can I put this, absolute Mother-f@#*ing s*#@! There is always a film were you can single one great role, actor or performance, and this film offers absolutely nothing! What we have here is a failure of craft. MacFarlane can't direct action, or even handle scenery well. He can't set up a visual joke properly without resorting to head-butting and bone-crunching, and he doesn't know how, or when, to move his camera. He's not good enough as a romantic lead to anchor a picture. MacFarlane's comic performance was actually surprisingly bland. As well was the other cast members'. Let's hope their next efforts will not be as detrimental as this one. Or hope they don't take a huge swan dive permanently.
A Million Ways to Die in the West has no dominant personality, and it looks as if it includes every gag thought up in every story conference. Whether good, bad or mild, nothing was thrown out. MacFarlane’s comedy, though very much a product of our modern society, recalls the wonder and discipline of toilet humor and fart jokes. MacFarlane’s sights are very low. His brashness is nothing special, his use of anachronism and anarchy recalls not the great film comedies of the past, but the disgusting and simple minded ones like South Park. With his talent he should do much better than that. To conclude, it is a crazed grabbag of a movie that tries everything to keep us laughing except it ultimately just hits us over the head with a rubber chicken. Mostly, it fails. It's not an audience picture; it doesn't have a lot of classy polish and its structure is a total mess.
Simon says A Million Ways to Die in the West receives: