Tuesday 22 Jul
 
 

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05/06/2014 | Comments 0

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04/23/2014 | Comments 0

Broadchurch: The Complete First Season

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04/23/2014 | Comments 0

Paranormal Activity: The Marked Ones

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04/23/2014 | Comments 0

Holy Ghost People

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04/15/2014 | Comments 0
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Comedy
 

A Million Ways to Die in the West


The new comedy from Seth MacFarlane manages to tire despite exerting minimal effort.

Zach Hale June 2nd, 2014

There’s a moment toward the climax of A Million Ways to Die in the West that finds Seth MacFarlane — the film’s director, co-writer and lead actor — hiding among a sea of sheep. As he lays in the dirt, he looks up, and a male member of the herd proceeds to urinate on his face. This particular gag is, for lack of a better phrase, the entire movie in a nutshell.

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MacFarlane, who rose to fame as the creator of TV’s Family Guy and his feature-length directorial debut Ted in 2012, has never been accused of provoking too much thought with his humor. But, amazingly, A Million Ways cheapens his jokes even further, with a remarkably dull script full of more misfires than MacFarlane’s own firearm-challenged character. That it is able to accomplish so little is the film’s greatest feat.

Albert, played by MacFarlane, is a timid, bookish and (supposedly) witty sheep farmer in the frontier of 19th-century Arizona. After getting dumped by Louise (Amanda Seyfried, Les Misérables), Albert plans to flee the danger of the desert, but he is lured back by Anna (Charlize Theron, Prometheus), who takes him under his wing despite the fact that she is married to Clinch (Liam Neeson, Non-Stop), the most feared killer in the West. Albert and Anna inevitably fall for one another, and when Clinch rolls into town, Albert must shed his inner nerd in order to protect his own self-interests.

The tragic irony of Albert’s character is that, while he claims to be the “smart” one in a barren desert of buffoonery, his schtick almost exclusively relies on toilet humor, unabashed misogyny and a hefty dose of racism in order to demonstrate his supposed wit. Shock value is here in abundance (though not too shocking, given who we’re working with). Actual value, on the other hand, is largely absent in this arduous two-hour fart joke.

If anything about the film is likable, it’s Ruth (Sarah Silverman, Wreck-It Ralph), a prostitute who is waiting to have sex with her boyfriend Edward (Giovanni Ribisi, Ted) until the two are married. Her character is, on occasion, genuinely funny, as Silverman possesses the comedic chops necessary to trounce the shortcomings of the script. Neil Patrick Harris (TV’s How I Met Your Mother) also gives a commendable performance as Foy, a wealthy, mustachioed egoist who steals Louise from Albert. These two characters were actually cast appropriately, but the same cannot be said for MacFarlane, who awkwardly tries to insert himself into a leading role.

While he is certainly capable of producing an engaging, well-written comedy, MacFarlane seems to be aiming lower and lower with each subsequent endeavor. A Million Ways forgoes any semblance of effort and points its barrel directly at the feces-covered ground, which is the only framework in which the movie could be said to have hit its mark.

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