"A Million Ways to Die in the West" was written and directed by leading actor Seth MacFarlane, the creator of the popular TV show “Family Guy.”
This is his first time live action role. He is probably most recognizable for his Oscar-hosting gig a few years back.
The movie centers around Albert, an inept sheep farmer, played by MacFarlane who is a non-violent person in the violent west. When his girlfriend Louise, played by Amanda Seyfried, breaks up with him for a mustache-wearing Foy, played by Neil Patrick Harris, his life goes into a tailspin.
Albert’s life starts to turn around after he befriends Anna, played by Charlize Theron. What he doesn’t know is that she is married to Clinch, the most ruthless man in the wild West, played by Liam Nesson.
It’s an easy role for Nesson. He’s a big draw for the movie but he’s not on screen too much. At 116 minutes, he’s only on screen for, at most, 15 percent of the time. All the promotional ads for the movie show Nesson as one of the big three actors, so you would expect to see more of him.
If you’re going to the film to see him, you’ll be greatly disappointed. Nesson is one of the best things about the movie and you barely get to see him. The best part of the movie is that you get to see the Delorean from “Back to the Future.”
The film is created to give MacFarlane the limelight, which is a mistake. He is not a actor; he is a voiceover guy. He can sing and do so many things, but leading a movie is not one of them. Throughout the film he seems to lack emotion, but at least with the other actors we see glimpses of emotion. He is stiff and and doesn’t seem comfortable in front of the camera. He would probably be okay in more of a secondary role, but as a lead actor he just doesn’t cut it.
It seems like there are a million jokes throughout the movie and most of them fall flat. There are some good jokes. For every 10 jokes you might get two or three good jokes. Since there are so many jokes, you get the vibe of a comedian trying out new material to see what works and most of the time they don’t work.
Considering it’s called "A Million Ways to Die in the West," not that many people die. MacFarlane’s character does talk a lot about death and how horrible the old west is, but talking is not dying. Anyone who does die is just a background person who doesn’t matter to the development of the story.
Another big issue is that everyone talks in a modern accent and we get no explanation why. There are a lot of modern phrases and references tossed in the movie while this is supposed to be the wild West, not some 2014 mall in the suburbs.
There’s much wrong with this movie. For every enjoyable, funny moment you see, there are about 20 not so funny, failed moments.
Overall, it has some redeeming qualities, including cool scenery, a good musical score, and a good amount of a-list actors, but that’s all it has going for it. It’s a comedy, but you won’t be laughing too much. Be advised this is an R rated movie for good reason. Don’t bring kids, or better yet, stay away yourself.
Tony Pinto’s grade: D