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REVIEW: A Million Ways To Die In The West

When you produce, direct, co-write and star in a movie, well, it becomes all about you. And that’s the major flaw in Seth MacFarlane’s adventurous take on the wild West.  He’s surrounded by a solid cast but he underuses them all, hogging  almost every  scene and every joke.  Didn’t his parents ever tell Seth to share??!!!

Not as strong as “Ted” but  much improved from his Oscar hosting, MacFarlane throws a gazillion jokes and bits to the wall and I have to say , about 40-50% of them stick.  He’s at his best when  in farce-mode and  his worst with the shocksters.  Sheep penis jokes?? Limp. Semen  on her head ?? Come on, the Farrelly brothers made a career on that with Cameron Diaz in “There’s Something About Mary” 16 years earlier.

MacFarlane plays a cowardly sheep farmer in Arizona who’s dumped by his girlfriend (Amanda Seyfried)  when he backs out of a gunfight.  She immediately takes up with the slickly mustached Foy (gamely played by an outstanding Neil Patrick Harris).  MacFarlane’s Albert, meanwhile, befriends and ultimately falls in love with a mysterious blonde who moves to town (breezily played by the truck-driver-mouthed Charlize Theron). Unbeknownst to Albert, she’s married to the most notorious outlaw in the West (a severely underused Liam Neeson).  Giovanni Ribisi and Sarah Silverman round out the stellar cast as a much in-love  Christian couple saving themselves for marriage, though she’s one of the most popular prostitutes at the local saloon.

While some of the scenes are drawn  out (thus, the close to 2 hour running time), many hysterical one liners fly by- so pay attention. Also hilarious: a few cameos, including Gilbert Gottfried , who so steals his scene, you’ll be begging for more. Using today’s modern language and slang makes it even funnier.

You gotta go with the raunch on this  one. If  that offends you at all, do yourself a favor and stay away. Otherwise, there are definitely enough laughs here to satisfy. A “Blazing Saddles” classic, it ain’t. But that’s a high bar to reach. Look at it this way. Most Westerns  are almost as painful to watch as living the life in the Wild West ( which is the premise of this whole movie).  MacFarlane has us feeling but laughing at their pain. It has sharp moments but this could have used sharper editing .

 

2-and-a-half stars

 

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