A Million Ways to Die in the West (2014)

116 minutes: MPAA rated R

Director: Seth MacFarlane

Starring: Seth MacFarlane, Charlize Theron, Amanda Seyfried, Liam Neeson, Giovanni Ribisi, Neil Patrick Harris, Sarah Silverman IMbD link

Official Website

Writer, Director, Actor, and Producer Seth MacFarlane’s latest flick “A Million Ways To Die In The West” is more of a vanity piece than an actual movie. If you don’t like MacFarlane’s brand of humor stop reading right now, this movie isn’t for you. It is nearly impossible to objectively review a comedy. At the end of the day, no matter how poorly a comedy may be directed, written, acted, the only thing a good comedy needs to do is make you laugh. What makes someone laugh is a very subjective thing.
Even though Ted is one of my favorite comedies of the last few years, I’ll admit I don’t have much history with MacFarlane, I’ve never really sat down and watched any of his Fox Animated comedies – “The Family Guy,” “American Dad” or the “Cleveland Show” so I can’t say I was particularly excited to see this.

MacFarlane (Albert) plays a poor sheep farmer who just got dumped by his love Julie (Amanda Seyfried) and desperate to get her back when he encounters town newcomer Anna (Charlize Theron) who has a dark secret, namely her husband is a bad ass bandit named Clinch (Liam Neeson).

For the first time ever, Sarah Silverman made me laugh with her turn as a Christian, “virgin” prostitute in love with Albert’s best friend, the poor hapless Edward (Giovanni Ribisi). Neil Patrick Harris (Foy) has a great turn as Julie’s pompous love interest.

My fear was all the best bits were in the trailers and in many ways they are but somehow they still managed to be funny as heck. Maybe it was the shared experience of being in a theater with a large group of people. Then again, the same thing happened with “Neighbors” but the jokes there didn’t hold up to repeated viewings.

This time, no matter how often I’ve seen the jokes, they still somehow work. I mean, you just have to love the premise. The West SUCKS and Seth MacFarlane keeps hammering his case home like he’s a Prosecutor on “Law and Order;” anything that is not you, whether its nature or man, is out to kill you in the most gruesome way. Most of the funny deaths are shown in the trailer, but it still works amazingly well, maybe that’s because Universal didn’t shove the trailer down our throat.

MacFarlane has never claimed to be a sophisticated writer, so the jokes here are all obvious and done with gusto, dry wit involved. The comedy here works more often than not and he doesn’t linger on any one joke too long for you to hardly notice the bad ones. Well other than the obligatory laxative scene, this time with NPH doing the honors. Can we please ban this trope from ALL future comedies? Talk about over used gimmicks.

The movie runs about 15 minutes to long, but I enjoyed seeing MacFarlane rip the scab off this period of history that Hollywood has always had a love affair with. Particularly as a black person, I have no desire to live in the West and this movie nicely summarizes all the reasons why.

Final Grade B+

Michelle Alexandria has been writing reviews for EclipseMagazine.com since 1997. Her reviews have been seen or quoted from on many of the top entertainment and film websites on the Web. She's most famous for her infamous trio of reviews for "Lord of the Rings" and saying the series lacked a little thing called "believability." She was the one critic in the crowd who hated "Titanic" and laughed out loud in the theater when Jack died. She walked out of "Magnolia" and "A.I." To this very day she avoids getting her picture taken for fear of LOTR fanboys recognizing her. They still pop up and say "This is the woman who hated LOTR, what does she know?" One of these days, she's going to collect every piece of hate mail for an entire year and put it into book form. In another life she has been a freelance Consumer Tech reporter for The Washington Post and UPI. Her first book, "Tell Us Who You Are - The EclipseMagazine.com Interviews," will be published this fall and available in fine bookstores — just about everywhere.