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One man seeks happiness and validation in the wrong woman, who dumps him. Luckily for him, though, a new woman enters his life and seems ready to compensate any feelings he is ready to give.
Review (with Spoilers)
Though controversial, it is hard to say Seth MacFarlane, with his R-rated Looney Tunes style of comedy, doesn’t have his moments. For while this may be one of his first in which he physically is starring, he has shown through Family Guy, and public appearances, that he isn’t against giving you the idea that anything can happen and no subject may be taboo. Which for A Million Ways to Die in the West, makes for a seriously slapstick, and borderline ridiculous at times, movie. One which doesn’t try, like its contemporaries, to pair an arguably deep story with a slew of jokes, but more so focuses on the laughs and a good enough story to help deliver them.
Characters & Story
Out in the west, around the year 1882, lives a man named Albert Stark (Seth MacFarlane) who is far from rich. He is but a simple sheep farmer who barely does his job well. But, despite this, he has a decent life. However, one thing that seems to be alluding him is the love of Louise (Amanda Seyfried), a wannabe debutante. For this woman, Albert seems willing to do anything, but being that he doesn’t have the type of money Foy (Neil Patrick Harris) has, Albert ends up without his girl, and has only the shoulder of best friend Edward (Giovanni Ribisi) to cry on.
But, slightly luckily for Albert, not too long after Louise dumps him comes Anna (Charlize Theron). She is a bit of a tomboy, though a romantic at heart. One more than willing to look past Albert’s faults and see this sweet guy who maybe could make a good husband. Something which she doesn’t really have in Clinch (Liam Neeson) who is a regional outlaw/ bandit who everyone fears.
Well, except Anna to a point. For while Clinch is out terrorizing some town, Anna finds herself spending an immense amount of time with Albert trying to prep him for a duel with Foy, over Louise. Somewhere along their training, though, Albert and Anna begin to fall for one another, and Louise gets a tad turned on by how badass Albert is getting. Leaving us to wonder, between Louise seeing Albert in a new light, and Clinch willing, and ready, to take out the man messing around with his wife, will Albert forsake Anna just so he won’t experience one of the million ways to die in the west?
In total, I laughed about 48 times over the course of this movie, which I find weird because the jokes were never really that complex, but you can see MacFarlane was looking for any which way he could to get the audience to laugh. Be it physical comedy; dirty jokes; racial jokes; through cameo appearances, like Doc Brown (Christopher Lloyd) showing up; and the occasional insightful joke about how strange it must have been to live in the west, each scene he tries to give you a good laugh, and lets just about every character try to win you over. Which they do.
Of course, though, Albert takes the lead by doing most of the aforementioned type of jokes, but then comes Foy who matches wits with Albert through a dance number, a mustache obsession, bad puns, and through Harris using the line “Challenge Accepted,” in a Barney-esque way. As for the others, they also get their little niche, or moment to shine, as well. Edward and Ruth (Sarah Silverman) have the strangest relationship for he plays this straight-laced square, who is in a very committed relationship with a woman who sleeps with a minimum of ten men daily, on a bad day. But, what makes that duo so comical is how Silverman plays up her usual quirks, as Harris does for Foy, and somehow adapts them to the times. She is a would-be church girl, who doesn’t want to sleep with Edward before marriage, and yet she eagerly has sex for money. All the while being this sugar sweet girlfriend who Edward sometimes wipes the cum off of.
Though the best part, to me, was the cameos. Be it Gilbert Gottfried as Abraham Lincoln, the aforementioned appearance of Doc Brown, or even Django, this movie presents itself as a film in which anyone can show up, and anything can possibly happen.
Which compensates for how dull the story can be at times. For while I will give props to MacFarlane for sort of flipping the usual romantic trope of a guy changing a girl’s life and making it so the girl changes the guy’s life, outside of that, everything here seems very basic. What makes matters worse though is MacFarlane tries to make Albert sympathetic and deep, in terms of his insecurities, but when you mentally compare this to the other comedies which seek to give their characters some depth, MacFarlane’s attempts seem underdone and forced.
Overall: Worth Seeing
This film, for me, is right on that border between being “Worth Seeing” and “TV viewing” with the jokes being what push this toward being “Worth Seeing.” However, if this film wasn’t as funny as it was, it would undeniably be a “TV Viewing” type movie because there isn’t a lot of strong points in the film. The story is adequate, and while I like how they developed the relationship between Albert and Anna, at the same time it only made for a decent distraction while you waited for the next joke. So, considering a minimum of 48 laughs, that is why I am saying this film is “Worth Seeing.”