A Million Ways to Die in the West

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A modern Blazing Saddles or simply ridiculous romp? The initial setup of the story will raise your hopes as a litany of reality about the glorified and immortalized West is reeled off over drinks. But, while entertaining, the whole is really more a silly romp that often succeeds and, occasionally, goes a step or two too far.  Given how big a bomb it was at the box office, I expected much worse.

So how did the creator of Ted, one of the most successful R rated comedies ever, go so wrong? Well, first, he made a Western. The genre just doesn’t pack movie houses anymore, even here in the States, no matter how good the quality is. And do not be fooled, there is some value here.

Macfarlane (Family Guy, Oscars) and Theron (Young Adult, Prometheus) beautifully underplay the humor and always manage to cut deep to the emotion. Theron also nails an American accent without a single hitch I could hear. As the main core of the story, they provide a solid central post.

Seyfried (In Time, Chloe), Harris (The Muppets), Ribisi (Dads, Heaven), Neeson (The Lego Movie), and Silverman (Wreck-It Ralph) support the plot well, but are all side items to a thinly constructed plot for Macfarlane and Theron to spend time together. They each bring something to table and work their lines well, but none really stand out. And that may be the movie’s biggest failing, that the supporting plot structure just wasn’t enough to bring it all off.

While I laughed a lot through the film, I also cringed a number of times, though far fewer times than I expected. Not a ringing endorsement, I admit. If you really like Macfarlane’s vein of humor, you’ll enjoy this. It isn’t a landmark like Brooke’s classic, but it wasn’t the bomb it appeared to be when it first released either.

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