A Million Ways To Die In The West follows the story of Albert (Seth MacFarlane), a useless sheep farmer with an intense hatred of the Wild West. After being dumped by his girlfriend Louise (Amanda Seyfriend), Albert sinks into a glum state characterised by cynical rants about all the ways you can die in the West. With life a constant battle against cholera, shootings, bar fights and the risk of being trampled or attacked by animals, Albert decides to move to San Francisco. That is until Anna (Charlize Theron), a foul mouthed, down to earth cowgirl arrives on the scene and begins showing Albert there’s more to life than his sheep and snooty ex-girlfriend. Albert and Anna begin a romantic relationship that is short-lived when Anna’s notorious gun-slinging husband Clinch (Liam Neeson), finds out and decides to seek revenge.
Like most of MacFarlane’s work, A Million Ways To Die In The West relies on the kind of humour you wouldn’t share with your grandma. MacFarlane leaves no line uncrossed as he and his cast deliver outrageous joke after outrageous joke and conjure up awkward moments that are sure to have you in stitches. There’s racist jokes, sexist jokes and sex jokes, it’s hardly witty but seeing the all-star cast thrust into MacFarlane’s silly, juvenile world of comedy brings the script to life.
While the film includes a train scene, plenty of horses, an encounter with Native Americans and your typical hero story, A Million Ways To Die In The West is in no way a Spaghetti Western classic. However, the set design and costumes are spectacular and do a lot to establish the film’s setting in the 19th century West. Liam Neeson’s costume is particularly flattering and includes a black, leather cowboy hat and spurs that chink menacingly with every step he takes.
The highlight performance of the film is Neil Patrick Harris who steals the show as Foy, the moustachioed villain that woos Louise and convinces her to leave Albert. Although the scene in which he uses a cowboy hat to deal with a diarrhoea crisis takes things a little too far, but what else can we expect when Seth MacFarlane is directing? Sarah Silverman as Ruth the prostitute, and Giovanni Ribisi as Edward the virgin add a hilarious subplot to the text, as the God-fearing couple who refuse to have sex despite Ruth’s role as a sex worker. Ribisi’s vacant expressions as Silverman recalls her sexual encounters in vivid detail are hilarious and his reaction when he first sees her naked is priceless.
A Million Ways To Die In The West has everything you can expect of a comedy written, directed, co-produced and starring Seth MacFarlane. The jokes are crude, the stoner moments prominent and the characters outrageous and over the top, but unlike Ted, MacFarlane’s first film, A Million Ways To Die In The West is a simple comedy with loveable characters that draw you in and make you want to laugh both with them and at them.
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