Soon after the release of the hilarious smash hit movie Ted, it’s creator and star, also the creator of the best animated TV show Family Guy, Seth MacFarlane, announced plans to write, produce and direct his next feature, a comedy adventure set in the wild west, featuring himself as a star. Fast forward to now and we have A Million Ways To Die In The West.
Seth MacFarlane stars as Albert, a kind-hearted sheep farmer who sticks out in a town full of angry, violent, drunk wild west trigger men thanks to his being a coward with a smart mouth and 21st century attitude. But when he loses his sweetheart (Amanda Seyfried) to a wealthy moustache-grooming business owner (Neil Patrick Harris), his world is torn apart and he sets about trying to win her back. Enter Anna (Charlize Theron), the wife of a psychotic murdering bandit (Liam Neeson), who flees from him and arrives into town where she takes a shine to the heartbroken wimp and takes him under her wing, training him to shoot pistols in an attempt to win back his girl. The mismatched pair become close friends and spend their days travelling to fairs and saloons, witnessing the million ways a man can die in the old west, including being shot, being impaled by a stampeding bull and… breaking wind, all the while slowly falling in love. But with Anna’s vicious killer husband on their trail, could they both die at his hand? Or can Albert finally step up as a hero of the Wild West and save his new love?
A Million Ways To Die has met a rather frosty reception at the hands of film critics around the world. But as i went in as a Seth MacFarlane fan and they went in no doubt as people who don’t understand his humour, i absolutely loved every second of it. Anyone who is a fan of Family Guy and Ted could never be disappointed with this, it’s the same humour MacFarlane has made a career from… Crude, rude, offensive and downright hilarious. Everything works, from his observations on modern day life mixed with wild west ways, to his love for assemble comic characters. The supporting cast shine bright as they struggle to contain themselves through a series of glorious gags, Giovanni Ribisi is fantastic as a creepy virgin trying to convince his Christian prostitute fiance that they should have sex, with Sarah Silverman equally hilarious as she delivers countless filthy gags without breaking a sweat. Liam Neeson, although seldom seen, does a great as the psycho killer out to find his wife, adding his now classic Taken-esque menace to the role, he does his best to imitate the old western movie bad guys, and he fairs extremely well. But as most expected, Neil Patrick Harris is an absolute scene stealer, from a lively song and dance number to a hysterical scene involving hats (I will not spoil it, but i cried laughing for that whole minute!), he just has so much fun in the movie and proves yet again that he has some serious comic chops. The romantic scenes between Seth and Charlize are handled really well too, adding much needed sweetness into such a manic fest of shooting and filthy jokes. MacFarlane also does an ace job of directing such a big movie, from a magical opening credit sequence faithful to the old western classics, to capturing some incredible wild west landscape, all the way through to the special effects-laden gags and shoot-outs, he never misses a beat. And as anyone knows with western movies, score is extremely important, and AMWTDITW composer Joel McNeely does not disappoint, providing a lavish score with a mixture of epic motion picture meets low-brow comedy, to give a very authentic feel to a movie that both sends up and pays tribute to the western movie genre, which was MacFarlane’s aim.
As well-written, as well directed and as funny as anything i personally could want from Seth MacFarlane, A Million Ways To Die In The West is pure comic perfection aimed directly at his fans, a collection of poop/sex/racist jokes wrapped up with a great story, a big spirit and a genuine feeling of the old west, along with many cameos (One which was leaked, but hopefully you missed the stories, as it’s a real special treat to fans of a certain wonderful classic movie trilogy which also took a turn in the old wild west), a host of hilarious comedy favourites, our own Liam Neeson and the always lovable man himself taking on his first leading man role, having only previously voiced his creations and appeared briefly in the brilliant ABC thriller TV show FlashForward. As a massive Family Guy and Ted fan, I highly recommend you go see A Million Ways To Die In The West (Or as I renamed it afterwards, A Million Ways To Make Me Crap My Pants Laughing!).