Seth MacFarlane, the highest paid writer in television history, has moved from the childhood talking bear (Ted) to the dirty Wild West by taking adult comedy films to another level. If you want to watch a film that will warm your heart and tickle your funny bone into hyper submission through adolescent humour then you will enjoy A Million Ways to Die in the West.
Besides directing, co-writing and producing the film, Seth embarked on his first acting role by playing Albert Stark, a meek sheep farmer that is despondent with the harsh life of the American frontier. According to Albert, it’s a dreadful place to live where “everything that’s not you wants to kill you”. Wild beasts, reviled hookers, infuriated drunks, Native Americans, cholera, the weather and of course, the outlaws. Albert is permanently petrified as he is convinced that he has found A Million Ways to Die in the West.
Albert’s cowardly attitude toward life is what keeps him alive. Unfortunately, it’s this attitude that causes his picky girlfriend Louise (Amanda Seyfried) to run off with the cocky shop owner of the local moustachery. While throwing himself a pity party over his lost love, he befriends Anna (Charlize Theron), a mysterious desirable woman who is new to the West. Alas! They discover that they have much in common in this one-horse town and he falls in love with her only to find out that she is betrothed to the deadliest outlaw in the West, Clinch Leatherwood (Liam Neeson). When the notorious gun-slinger Clinch arrives in town seeking revenge against Albert, he has to put on his big boy boots and his courage is put to the test.
What saved this film from its extremely predictable plot line and “sheepish” humour was Charlize Theron’s performance as the sassy Anna. It’s also evident that Micheal Barrett, the cinematographer definitely enjoyed filming the vast monument valleys and blue skies to create the frills of an old school western. Another saving grace was the credited stunt team and remarkable set design that brought the story to life.
If you rate a film on how often it makes you laugh, then A Million Ways to Die in the West proves to be filled with laughs. Although the majority of these are generated by blasphemy, stereotypical jokes, cameos and harsh humour.