Anyone who knows me know I am a huge fan of Seth McFarlane. I’ve been preaching the gospel of McFarlane for a very long time now. From “Family Guy” to “American Dad” and to his feature film debut, “Ted” Seth has consistently delivered great laughs and entertainment, “The Cleveland Show” aside, his track record is nearly flawless even if as late some of his shows aren’t hitting their marks but that has to do with the current writers than him. So naturally I was really excited for his newest film, “A Million Ways to Die in the West”. It was 8th on my most anticipated of 2014, and did it deliver? Well no it didn’t. Although it’s not horrible, and does have its moments of comedic brilliance. However “A Million Way to Die in the West” suffers from a cluttered, under written, overlong, and disjointed screenplay that provides inconsistent laughs in the face of performers giving it their all on screen.
“A Million Ways to Die in the West” follows this cowardly farmer as he teams up with a mysterious new women who just arrived to town to learn how to become a gunfighter in order to win back his ex-girlfriend. But soon the most feared gunfighter arrives in town, only for the famer to learn, his new found friend is his wife.
The movie’s biggest weakness is the script’s story because there really isn’t much. The plot is sprinkled in amongst all the different comedic situations that McFarlane wants to showcase. The movie feels more like a bunch of loosely connected skits with only a thin plotline (like the synopsis I just wrote) to make this a feature length film. There are so many different tangents the movie takes and some are vey random. There is nothing wrong with a loosely scripted comedy but this feels so loose at times that McFarlane was making it up as he went. Even look at “Ted”. Sometimes it’s loose but at its heart had a very simple story that flowed along rather nicely. This has many little individual moments that shine but it doesn’t have that story that flows along and is a presence.
The loose scripting wouldn’t be that much of a problem if the movie provided consistent laughs. This is after all a comedy and as long as it provides laughs who cares if the script is loose? “Anchorman” is an example of that. The movie is funny and a great comedy but from a narrative perspective, it’s not so strong. However as a comedy, it’s absolute gold.
So the problem with this movie is the humor is not consistent enough. The movie will be really funny then go through a long period of time where it won’t be funny. These long lulls between the laughs isn’t even story development, it’s where the movie just isn’t funny. The jokes aren’t hitting at all, even though the performers are giving it their all to make the material funny. When the humor is clicking and the humor hits, it’s damn funny. Certainly there are moments that showcases why Seth McFarlane is so funny and why he has been so successful. Then there are a lot more moments that showcases why some of the past few seasons of “Family Guy” have not been so good.
All of the actors really shine here in the movie. Seth McFarlane stars, without being the voice of something for the first time in movies and TV. He proves himself as someone who can handle himself in a starring role even if I think he is a better as a supporting performer. Liam Neeson is good as the most vicious gun fighter in the territory. Charlize Theron is an amazing as the McFarlane’s new friend, and their chemistry sizzles on screen. Giovanni Ribisi is as wonderful as he always is and his perfectly paired with Sarah Silverman as his prostitute girlfriend that is saving for marriage to have sex with him. Neil Patrick Harris is a bit over the top but still delightful. Amanda Seyfiend falls flat. She is either really good or just dull and bland and for this, she is the latter.
The movie has its moments and it has a strong cast with some very funny moments. However it’s not enough to make up for its long stretches of time where the humor just does not hit it’s mark. Also the film is too long and needed to be trim down and which could benefited by cutting out the excess of the script. This isn’t nearly as bad in my eyes as the “The Cleveland Show” however it’s not good enough and misses it’s potential.