A Million Ways to Die in the West: An Empty Chamber
By Sean Molloy
With A Million Ways to Die in the West, there was so much hope for the follow up to Seth MacFarlane’s breakout film, Ted. Once again, MacFarlane was writing and directing an R-rated comedy, which mean he was free to make all the jokes he wanted but couldn’t in the half hour cartoon “Family Guy.” Perhaps, in having this much control comes the problem. Million goes too far too often and loses the cleverness that made Ted so special. That, and nearly every joke in the movie has appeared in the trailers leading up to release.
Million gives us the story of Albert Stark played by MacFarlane, a man who seems to talk himself out of problems, raises sheep poorly and recently suffers a breakup with his longtime girlfriend Louise, portrayed by Amanda Seyfried. During his misery is when Albert runs into the new to town woman, Anna (Charlize Theron) who seems to give him new lease on life and training him to take part in a duel with the town’s mustache shop owner and new beau to Louise, Foy (Neil Patrick Harris). In a rather non-shocking twist of fate, Albert ultimately going gun to gun (see what I did there) with Anna’s outlaw husband Clinch, (Liam Neeson) and yes you did read that name correctly. The main villain’s name is Clinch.
The one shining attribute of Million is by far the cast. Each member seems to dig into their roles and deliver their scenes like he or she is really giving their all. It’s just too bad that the writing sometimes is unbearable and most of the jokes fall completely flat on their face. As previously mentioned, if you have viewed any of the trailers then you have seen the best gags in the movie. It really is a shame that MacFarlane chose to reveal so much, so early. If you want to see the same moments, then by all means go see the movie. There are just a limited number of new experiences to be had in the film.
And now to Seth MacFarlane himself. His biggest misstep in the movie is casting himself in the lead. It’s now clear that he simply is not a leading man. What works best is his voice. Stick to voiceovers and lending those golden vocal chords to the characters you have made beautifully. There are certain times where his deliveries are pure pain to behold, utterly groan inducing. Also, some of the jokes just go too far….sheep phalluses and diarrhea into a cowboy hat comes to mind. You see what I’m going for here.
I really am disappointed in giving A Million Ways to Die in the West such a bad grade. Due to its lack of humor and recycled jokes, there simply isn’t a place for the movie to live on in any kind of comedic memory. The first disappointment of the summer movie season.