A Million Ways to Die in the West (2014) – Review

1 1/2 Stars

The vibrant comedic zeal that seemed so effortless in Writer/Director Seth MacFarlane’s Ted, is nowhere to be found this his dreadfully dull follow-up. Jokes fall flat often but the hard-working MacFarlane keeps pumping them out, the lack of a truly manic leading man and a running time closer to Eastwood’s Unforgiven than Brooks’ Blazing Saddles are just a few of the many detriment to this flawed project.

Albert Stark (MacFarlane) has been recently dumped by his long-time girlfriend Louise (Amanda Seyfried) after ducking out of a gun-fight, she figures he’s too much of a coward for her. It’s a treacherous time on the western frontier, everything is out to kill for self-preservation, a point the movie keeps hammering home. Stark’s nemesis is a superbly mustached gentleman named Foy (Neil Patrick Harris) who constantly remarks on the lack of Albert’s facial hair.

Distraught by the break-up Albert is consoled by his best friend Eddie (Giovanni Ribisi) a love-stricken nice guy who suffers his girlfriend Ruth’s (Sarah Silverman) professional–sexual liaisons with other men, only to be told that their coupling must wait until their wedding night. The arrival of a beautiful stranger in town, goes unnoticed by all but Albert. The mysterious foreigner Anna (Charlize Theron) falls for the sheepish Stark and vows to help him get over heartbreak and a lack of self-confidence.

Anna and Albert began as friends, consuming pot cookies, and are soon undeniably attracted to one another. This doesn’t sit well with Clinch Leatherwood (Liam Neeson), the baddest outlaw in the west and absentee husband to Anna. Setting up a duel between the bandit and the ever fretting Albert, while also giving Anna a glimpse into the unknown bravery that lies within the anti-social sheep herder.

Back in the late Nineties a pair of hot comedy writers tried their hand at headlining a comedy from Universal Studios (the same company releasing West) and the result was the equally disastrous BASEketball. A Million Ways to Die in the West has the ingredients for a great mock trailer, the kind that ran during Tropic Thunder, as a full length feature it dies quickly onscreen and the remaining 95 minutes feel like a death sentence.

Director: Seth MacFarlane
Stars: Seth MacFarlane, Charlize Theron, Liam Neeson

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