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Author Topic: A Million Ways to Die in the West (C+)  (Read 4946 times)
dnwilliams
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« on: May 29, 2014, 06:46:19 PM »



Director Seth MacFarlane, the mastermind behind Family Guy, American Dad, and The Cleveland Show, has a readily identifiable brand of humour. His shows apply a similar, successful formula, and he has become synonymous with (relatively random) cutaway gags. He lends his voices to a bunch of the characters on his shows, and has slowly started to become the face of his projects too, with A Million Ways to Die in the West, the follow up to his live-action debut feature Ted, being the first time he has taken centre stage. Can the comedy Western keep MacFarlaneís winning streak going and make him Hollywoodís newest leading man?

A Million Ways to Die in the West begins with an opening title sequence. This in and of itself is not unusual. What is unusual is that this opening title sequence is lengthy, and doesnít even begin to try to do anything. Itís just there. Credits, superimposed over Monument Valley, with a bombastic score over the top. You might be waiting for a punchline, but there isnít one - no comedic lyrics, no pratfalls in the distance - nothing. Itís a straight up traditional opening title sequence, and not even a visually distinctive one, or one that establishes the story. Itís a confusing and odd choice, as it doesnít set the tone for the movie that follows. Seth MacFarlane plays Albert, a (bad) sheep farmer constantly made aware of his own mortality by the people around him dropping like flies, victims of the hazardous lifestyle of the American frontier. The first time we see him he falls flat on his face (which is the first but not the last time that simply falling over is used as a gag) and is trying to talk his way out of getting shot dead. He manages to do so, but while he escapes with his life, he loses his girlfriend Louise (Amanda Seyfried) who believes he should have fought. Louise moves on with a moustachioed man named Foy (Neil Patrick Harris, on top form) while Albertís rebound is Anna (Charlize Theron), who unbeknownst to him is the wife of the most feared gunslinger in the territory, Clinch Leatherwood (Liam Neeson).

A Million Ways to Die in the West is a break-up movie set in a world where people die horrible, uniquely Old West deaths, in every other scene. People die at the saloon, people die at the doctor, people die running the town, people die minding their own business. People die at the fair. The break-up plot never feels fleshed out enough to sustain the movieís two-hour runtime though, with Liam Neesonís character absent for most of the story, subsequently feeling tacked on towards the end after the build up towards a confrontation between Albert and Foy is resolved. MacFarlane is popular enough and successful enough to have very vocal detractors - I donít consider myself to be one of them. While the movieís humour is uneven, bouncing between clever, puerile, sophisticated and bafflingly lazy, it plays like a series of themed sketches that pause occasionally for plot progression, or sometimes unsatisfying digression, that would have been more consistently entertaining if it were tighter and less repetitive. A Million Ways to Die in the West is entertaining enough during its best moments that you canít help but wish it were less unwieldy. There are some seriously memorable highlights, including a moustache-themed song and dance number, a running gag about photos, and two cameos from popular characters that you would never, ever find me complaining about. Unfortunately those cameos do have the effect of making you wish youíd watched those Westerns instead.

C+
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dnwilliams
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« Reply #1 on: May 29, 2014, 06:56:53 PM »

Looking at RT, didn't before, and it seems like (although the reviews are pretty unfavourable) most are in agreement about the thing just being too damn baggy.

Quote
"keeps the gags flying like hot lead out of a Colt .45. And for every three that don't land, one or two hit the bullseye." - EW

"There are a million jokes in it, but only 500,000 of them are funny." - Washington Post

"long, arid stretches between anything resembling a joke." - Seattle Times

"hits the comic bull's eye when it counts, but also has its fair share of misfires." - Film Journal International

"A Million Ways To Die In The West would benefit from a lot more effort and a little less of MacFarlane's cavalier confidence." - The Dissolve

"MacFarlane's comedic approach has always been that of throw everything at the wall and see what sticks. It's no different this time out, and the jokes are so plentiful that the odds are in this movie's favor for a substantial number of them to succeed." - Austin Chronicle

If they cut half an hour of duds out of this flick it would have been reviewed a hell of a lot better! Should've reigned himself in, I'm surprised it wasn't sorted out when it was tested though.
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Sheridan Passell
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« Reply #2 on: May 29, 2014, 11:36:22 PM »

I just watched all the clips. This whole thing looks like donkey balls. 13 year old humour. The romance between the Theron and MacFarlane seems agonisingly uncomfortable/forced.

I have been nervous of watching Ted because I'm pretty sure I'm going to find it mirth-free too. I did watch the Family Guy Star Wars specials and they were good.
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dnwilliams
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« Reply #3 on: May 30, 2014, 03:15:42 AM »

Yeah, see I never saw more thana couple episodes of FG and AD. I enjoyed Ted. This movie would've been a lot better if they made Foy and Clinch Leatherwood the same character, gave him more of a motivation, cut the weak jokes and trimmed the runtime. I found myself checking the time, which I rarely do, and it happened to be around the 45m mark (where Albert is having a pivotal heart to heart with Anna) and the 90m mark (when he was confronting Foy and the thing should have been ending).
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Sheridan Passell
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« Reply #4 on: May 30, 2014, 09:53:23 AM »

In the footage I've seen of Charlize Theron promoting this in the UK she looks so bored.
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