Judy Thorburn's Movie Reviews

A Million Ways To Die In The West | Seth McFarlane, Charlize Theron, Liam Neeson, Amanda Seyfried, Giovanni Ribisi, Neil Patrick Harris, Sarah Silverman | Review

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3sm The Flick Chicks movie rating for this film is MEDIOCRE Judy Thorburn

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3lg The Flick Chicks movie rating for this film is MEDIOCRE


A Million Ways To Die In The West

I've never been a fan of Seth McFarlane. I didn't like Ted, have never watched Family Guy, and thought he flopped as host of the Oscars two years ago. But, heck, I was willing to check out his latest project, A Million Ways to Die in the West, to see if he could redeem himself.  To my surprise, I found McFarlane to be somewhat likeable and the movie not as bad as I anticipated.

McFarlane produced, co-wrote, directed and stars as the leading man (his first ever in a live action flick) in this western spoof alongside a top notch cast including Oscar winner Charlize Theron, Liam Neeson, Amanda Seyfried, Giovanni Ribisi, Neil Patrick Harris and Sarah Silverman.

Set in an Arizona town called Old Stump in 1882, McFarlane plays a cowardly sheep farmer named Albert, who complains that he hates living in the old west because there is too much violence. To make matters worse, his girlfriend Louise (a blonde ringleted Seyfried, in a thankless role) decides to dump him after he backs out of gunfight, but soon after winds up in the arms of another man, the mustachioed, arrogant, Foy (the always terrific Neil Patrick Harris).

Meanwhile, Anna (Theron) a mysterious and beautiful gunslinging cowgirl arrives in town and hooks up with the depressed and heartbroken Albert, whom she finds sweet but lacking self esteem and confidence. Knowing he could use some help and guidance, she decides to teach Albert how to shoot a gun when Foy challenges him to duel. Eventually, Anna begins to fall in love with Albert and vice versa with Albert unaware that she is hiding a secret. As his luck would have it, Anna is married (although unhappily) to Clinch Leatherwood (Liam Neeson, playing it very straight), the most vicious, deadliest gunman in the frontier, and he is on his way into town accompanied by his rough and tough gang. Uh, Oh!

A hilarious sideline plot revolves around Albert's virginal best friend, Edward (Ribisi) and his girlfriend, perky, wide eyed Ruth (Silverman), the saloon prostitute. Although she openly shares graphic details with Edward about her sex acts with the series of men she beds, Ruth refuses to sleep with her “true love” until after they are married because she is a Christian.

Showing up in unbilled cameos are Bill Mahr, Ewan McGregor, Gilbert Gottfried, Ryan Reynolds, Wes Studi, and a special surprise appearance after the credits that I refuse to reveal. There is also a clever homage to Back to the Future with Christopher Lloyd.

A Million Ways to Die in the West is packed with crude, gross humor, foul language, sexual references, references to bodily fluids, political incorrectness, a scene of explosive diarrhea, over the top gore, and as the title suggests, violence in the Wild West. And while most of it is offensive and/or downright disgusting, I must admit, there are some truly funny moments that had me laughing out loud. Theron and McFarlane elicit some surprising good chemistry and I also liked the messages of true love, friendship and believing in yourself.

McFarlane's talents can't compare to the comedic genius of Mel Brooks whose classic 1974 western spoof Blazing Saddles is in a class all its own and was most likely the inspiration for A Million Ways to Die In the West.  That said, McFarlane's own attempt at delivering an uproarious western parody is commendable. Armed with a few tricks up his sleeve, and an excellent cast who is up for the task, his film hits the mark more often than not.