A Million Ways to Die in the West-Review

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By:Justin Jasso (@jjasso007)

Life isn’t easy. I think we can all agree to that. How we may long for the days of being a child once again, with no worries in the world. Now imagine what life was like during the days of the Wild West when you didn’t have access to medical technologies and a splinter may mean your early demise. The daily threat of bandits, wolves, the common cold, and potential death at the local fair are real dangers. Seth MacFarlane probably sums it up the best with his latest film in which he stars and directs: A Million Ways to Die in the West.

The year is 1882, the location is Arizona, and life is fraught with perils in the West. Albert (Seth MacFarlane) is a sheep farmer, which isn’t the most glorious of jobs in this day and age. After showing off his cowardly visage in a duel, his girlfriend Louise (Amanda Seyfried) decides to lose him for a real man. And by real man, I mean a man with a luxurious moustache by the name of Foy (Neil Patrick Harris). But when Albert thinks things can’t get any worse (there are a million ways to die in the West, Albert), a new woman named Anna (Charlize Theron) comes to town. With a little push from his friends Edward (Giovanni Ribisi) and Ruth (Sarah Silverman), Albert decides to talk to Anna. But soon Anna’s husband, who happens to be the notorious outlaw Clinch Leatherwood (Liam Neeson), comes to town to get his wife back and kill whoever has touched her. But will Albert be able to muster up the strength and courage to take on Clint and his gang or will he, once again, turn cowardly and attempt to run away?

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Looking at the film superficially, with a title like A Million Ways to Die in the West, and it being brought to us by Seth MacFarlane, we tend to know what to expect. Now, the Western genre of films doesn’t usually tend to perform well at the box office, as it is more of a niche genre that doesn’t appeal to everyone. But MacFarlane, with his success of Ted and the TV series Family Guy, may change that. A Million Ways to Die in the West isn’t your typical Western as there are numerous references to people and events of today, plus the comedy and jokes portrayed are not what we expect, nor would ever envision, happening back in 1882. And that is what sets this film apart. MacFarlane takes a time period that is more or less foreign to modern society and brings it back to life with a comedic twist that makes the hum-drum life of 1882 Arizona seem full of the crazy and whimsical. Of course we still wouldn’t want to live there, but watching it on screen is just fine.

Seth MacFarlane basically plays Seth MacFarlane in the film. At no time do we remotely believe he’s taken on the role of a man living during this time period. From the way he speaks to his mannerisms and how he carries his body physically, this is Seth being Seth. But, then again, he isn’t an actor and he knows exactly what it is he wants on the screen. So, taking that into account, it works. As for the real actors in the film, they all seem to really enjoy themselves. Charlize Theron and Giovanni Ribisi take their roles a little more seriously, looking like they did some research for the role. Neil Patrick Harris is hilarious as Foy, really taking to the character created. Liam Neeson fits the role of Clinch perfectly and comes off as believable. And Sarah Silverman is also hilarious in her scenes with Giovanni Ribisi. All around, the cast really works for the film.

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A Million Ways to Die in the West is by no means perfect, and some of the jokes do fall flat. But for every joke that doesn’t work, there are three jokes that do. Some people may be turned off by how crude some of the comedy is, but in reality, if you’re going to see a movie by Seth MacFarlane, then you know what you’ll be getting. Plus the film has a big musical number and one of the most epic moments in movie history, which I shall not spoil. A Million Ways to Die in the West is exactly what we are looking for from a summer comedy: something light and fun that will have us laughing until our cheeks hurt and walking out talking about specific scenes and lines for days to come.

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars


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