Sunday, June 1, 2014

A Million Ways to Die in the West Review

When it comes to Seth MacFarlane, people tend to have a very divided opinion of him and his works like Family Guy and American Dad. Some people think that he's able to poke fun at any situation and inject humor and satire into nearly any situation regardless of how difficult it is. Others view him as being all cut away gags and that his only jokes are making references to other things with a modern perspective and failing at it. I personally think that Seth MacFarlane is very hit and miss with his humor and he seems to push the boundaries a bit too far in some instances, but when his jokes hit, man do they hit. His last feature film Ted was a huge success both critically and commercially, justifyingly so, and while his latest movie A Million Ways to Die in the West isn't as good, it's still pretty damned good and one of the best comedies of the year so far.

Our story is centered on Albert Stark, played by Seth himself, as a sheep farmer living in the West. He hates his life, hates living in Old Stump, his girlfriend dumped him, and everything just plain sucks. However, when he meets a mysterious woman named Anna, she agrees to help him get out of his funk and be more confident in himself and less know-it-all frontiersman. The catch is that Anna is actually the wife of the most dangerous outlaw in the territory, Clinch Leatherwood, and Clinch is coming to Old Stump to get her back.

It's your standard premise for a Western, but the movie doesn't feel like a Western at all. What's weird is just how juxtaposed some characters are between acting like they're in a Western and acting like their from the 21st century. What do I mean? Well take Neil Patrick Harris as Foy, a self absorbed man who runs the local Mustachery and is completely obsessed with his mustache. He speaks in an old, antiquated style that would fit in a Western, but Seth MacFarlane speaks like someone who would appear in Ted. He's very modern with his delivery and I don't see a character there; I just see Seth MacFarlane acting like he's in a Western. That being said, that isn't bad in the slightest because having that juxtaposition is the key behind most of the jokes in this movie.

People die at the fair...
This movie is a lewd, crude satire of the entire Western genre, and there's nothing wrong with that. When a movie is poking fun at how rough and stupid it was back then, it's hilarious. One of the best scenes in the movie is when Seth MacFarlane explains why the West sucks so much and explains in great detail about the millions of ways to die in the west. There's even cameos a plenty in this movie, yet all of them work. I couldn't think of another movie that had so many cameos, yet had all of them hit so well. There's one that was revealed in the trailers, but I can guarantee that there are plenty more laced throughout the movie.

A lot of people have been saying that the best jokes are in the trailers and that diminishes the jokes, but truth be told, the best jokes aren't in the trailers. There are some really good jokes shown in the trailers yes, but all of the hidden cameos and the context of the trailers makes the jokes land harder and better. On a related note, this movie has been getting torn apart by critics, though not as bad as other movies this past year, but it's still getting a beating. For the life of me, I can't understand why. This movie isn't dumb fun, but it isn't an intellectual marvel either. It's a satire, though not as good as other Western satires like Blazing Saddles. 

Do you wanna know what the weirdest thing about this movie is? I would say that one of the best characters in this movie is Sarah Silverman as Ruth, the most popular prostitute in town. I know that's such an odd comment to make given how some people can't stand her, but she's kind of like a poster child for what this movie is like. It's full of a lot of penises and sex jokes, but you can't say that she's not charming.

If Neil Patrick Harris is in a movie, he's required to sing/
I will admit that this movie goes on a bit too long for my tastes, clocking in at almost two hours. It just feels like there were a bit too many scenes that didn't really go anywhere and a few jokes that were drawn out a bit too long. Even then, those are minor complaints to make about a comedy. However, as I said earlier on, I don't think this is better than Ted. Ted had heart behind its premise and some great sequences behind it like the epic Flash Gordon sequence, while AMWtDitW (wow that acronym is awful) doesn't have a singular stand out moment that make it great. It has a bunch of small moments that add up to a good final product, but it doesn't have anything that will be remembered through the ages.

AMWtDitW isn't a comedy that will remembered through the ages, but it is a really damned funny one. This is a movie I think will be a lot better if you haven't seen that many trailers of it, or if you're watching it on DVD a few months after the movie came out. The jokes won't be as prevalent in your mind and therefore they'll be funnier. But that isn't a cue to not see this movie. See it by all means, because it's so rare to get a good comedy in theatres. Seriously, I'd rather have this over A Haunted House 2. I know that isn't saying much, but at least it's something. "A Million Ways to Die in the West: At least it's not A Haunted House 2". 

You know exactly what you're getting yourself into when you see a Seth MacFarlane movie, so head into with proper expectations. If you liked Ted, Family Guy, American Dad, The Cleveland Show, or anything else the man has done. You'll like this movie. If not, then while it may not be your cup of tea, it's still good for a few good chuckles. A Million Ways to Die in the West gets a solid 4 out of 5 stars.


It may not be high art, but high art doesn't have songs about mustaches now does it?

No comments:

Post a Comment