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article imageReview: ‘A Million Ways to Die in the West’ is too many Special

By Sarah Gopaul     Jun 1, 2014 in Entertainment
Writer/director Seth MacFarlane stars in ‘A Million Ways to Die in the West,’ which centres on a cowardly farmer’s bid for love that forces him into a gunfight with an opponent way out of his league.
The comedy of Seth MacFarlane has always been hit and miss. Sometimes he rides one joke a little too long, or he relies a bit too heavily on bathroom humour. Nonetheless, he is an entertaining comedian with a lot of funny ideas. His latest venture takes him to the absurdly dangerous frontier in A Million Ways to Die in the West.
Albert (MacFarlane) is a lousy sheep farmer just trying to survive the countless things that could kill him on the frontier. The latest on the list is heartbreak as his long-time girlfriend, Louise (Amanda Seyfried), decides he’s not marriage material and begins dating Foy (Neil Patrick Harris), owner of the town’s local “moustachery.” Determined to win her back, Albert challenges Foy to a duel even though he can’t hit the air next to a target on his best day. Enter Anna (Charlize Theron), the wife of infamous outlaw Clinch (Liam Neeson), awaiting the bandit’s return in the small town. Fancying Albert’s resolve, she agrees to teach him to shoot prior to the gunfight and help him win back Louise.
Much of the comedy is built into the outlandishness of the characters and their relationships. Edward’s (Giovanni Ribisi) girlfriend, Ruth (Sarah Silverman), is a prostitute in a brothel but believes they should refrain from having sex before marriage because they’re both good Christians. Foy believes his moustache makes him superior to clean-shaven men such as Albert. This sentiment is underpinned by the do-si-do song, "If You’ve Only Got a Moustache.” Albert’s sheep wander regularly with one somehow finding its way onto the roof, while his father (Christopher Hagen) ends most conversations with “F@#% off.”
Though the characters are grounded in 1882, many of their perspectives on their environment are informed by modern day views and knowledge such as Albert’s rant about diseases and Anna’s commentary on her dress for the dance. In addition there are a number of amusing cameos, including Bill Maher, Ryan Reynolds, Dennis Haskins, Gilbert Gottfried, Ewan McGregor, a surprise crossover from another offbeat Western, as well as a final confrontation that bookends the credits.
The downside of MacFarlane’s dusty variety show is it shares one of the less desirable qualities of his directorial debut, Ted – it’s too long. The general shtick of how unappealing living in the West could be does grow weary and at nearly two hours the jokes start getting stale. A more liberal edit would go a long way in improving the film and making it a great comedy instead of just a decent one.
Director: Seth MacFarlane
Starring: Seth MacFarlane, Charlize Theron and Neil Patrick Harris
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