Every night, Dan and I watch an episode of Family Guy before going to bed. It's as much part of our bedtime routine as brushing our teeth. We are fans of Seth MacFarlane. Yeah, we read the bad reviews for A Million Ways to Die in the West, but it was just one of those movies that we needed to see for ourselves.
The story follows a cowardly sheep farmer, Albert (MacFarlane) as he tries to navigate life in the wilds of Arizona in the late 1800's. Albert has recently been dumped by his gold digger girlfriend ( Amanda Seyfried) and is out drinking with his friends (Giovanni Ribisi and Sarah Silverman), when he has an encounter with a beautiful newcomer to town, Anna ( Charlize Theron). Anna hides the fact that her husband is the notorious outlaw, Clinch Leatherwood ( Liam Neeson) and that she is waiting for him in town, as he robs a train. Anna and Albert have an immediate connection that grows stronger as she teaches him to shoot in preparation for a duel with his ex-girlfriend's new beau (Neil Patrick Harris).
The biggest problem with A Million Ways to Die in the West? It's not funny. About 90% of the jokes fell flat and most of the things that were funny, were spoiled in the trailer. I love movie trailers, but this was a fail, as it gave far too much away. There were a few funny moments left unspoiled, but they were not laugh-out-loud funny or even memorable enough to write in this review. MacFarlane's brand of humor works well in Family Guy, because having animated characters creates a buffer for shocking content and it also gives great allowance for wacky jokes. It doesn't work as well with live action. There were many moments in the film that felt like an episode of Family Guy, with the character of Albert having many joke/speech patterns that felt like the Peter Griffin character. There were several extended jokes that relied on long pauses, that work well in Family Guy, but fell completely flat in this movie. Also, far, far too much gross humor. It just wasn't funny.
There were some okay things about the film, like the cast. I guarantee that everyone signed on for this film, not because of the script, but because they knew that it would be a lot of fun on the set. This movie has a ton of star power and they were all very good. In particular, I really liked the exchanges between Theron's Anna and Seyfried's Louise. It provided for some great cattiness. Keep an eye out for a ton of celebrity cameos.
The theme of everything is out to kill you in the west, had potential. I liked the bit about death at the county fair. There really was tons of potential with the idea of the story, but it didn't pan out. The finished product felt like a rough draft that needed tighter script editing.