I had pretty high hopes up for this one because Family Guy is probably one of my favorite shows on television. Literally, throughout the entire 23 minutes I laugh constantly, like non-stop, and my friends kind of hate me for it. Not to mention Ted is one of my favorite films, so with Seth MacFarlane set out to follow-up Ted, I was pretty excited. MacFarlane wrote, directed, produced, and stars in A Million Ways to Die in the West. The film also stars Charlize Theron, Amanda Seyfried, Neil Patrick Harris, Giovanni Ribisi, Sarah Silverman, and Liam Neeson.
And as my title to this review suggest, it’s not what I was hoping for.
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Now don’t get me wrong, that comes across a little bit harsh but it’s not a terrible film. A Million Ways to Die in the West tells the story of Albert Stark (MacFarlane) as he deals with his girlfriend (Seyfried) breaking up with him, and the million of ways that there are to die in the west.
He pretty much hates living in his time.
He then meets Anna (Theron) who takes on the task of teaching him to be a man and win back his girlfriend. Little does he know, Anna is married to the evilest gunslinger in the west, Clinch Leatherwood (Neeson).
What works about the film are the little cameos, with the exception of the greatest of them because it was ruined by the trailers. If you haven’t seen the trailers and the surprise hasn’t been ruined, consider yourself lucky and just avoid it until you see the movie. There a lot of jokes that remind you of Family Guy, which I found hilarious no matter how minor they were. The same goes for Neil Patrick Harris’ character and his former role as Barney Stinson in How I Met Your Mother, and if you were a fan of that show you are definitely going to understand the jokes.
The rest of the jokes are hit or miss. When they are on they really make you laugh. Charlize Theron is a gem in the film, standing out like she does in most films, and she has a lot of fun with the role. NPH as well is hilarious despite what is kind of small role, but still very funny. Giovanni Ribisi and Sarah Silverman are funny together, pointless characters, but still funny.
The rest of the cast is rather weak. Seth MacFarlane is not horrible as the lead because he doesn’t make you see the character. All you see is Seth MacFarlane, in the west. All you hear, is Brian Griffin. The film has Liam Neeson, friggin’ Liam Neeson, and yet the character is a waste of his talents. You could have put anyone in the role and it wouldn’t have been missing anything. If you have Liam Neeson, use him! He is one of the biggest badasses of all time, so why would anyone stick him in such a watered down role?
There are also a lot of rehashed jokes. Like I get it, laxative make people have to go No. 2 a lot and uncontrollably at the wrong times. Ok, but how many more times are comedies going to rely on this joke? Dumb & Dumber hit it strong, but let it go. Also there would be a great set of jokes, then dick joke, then fart joke, then dick joke, then fart joke. It is almost like MacFarlane was feeling lazy, like when he wrote the Cleveland Show. The film also could have benefitted from the magic of the cutting room and could have cut out about 30 minutes, which would have made the movie run a lot smother. It definitely dragged a bit toward the end.
All in all, A Million Ways to Die in the West is a decent film. It rehashes jokes you’ve seen and heard before, and carries on Family Guy references. Seth MacFarlane isn’t horrible, but comes off as a guy wanting to put himself in the starring role of a film and make out with Charlize Theron. I gave the film a Jeebus score of 3, check out the Matinee, barely.
The Jeebus System explained
I base films on what I call the Jeebus System, which is a 6 point grade with a possible .5 bonus. With a full 1 point given for entertainment value, story, SFX or cinematography, acting, and casting each, then a half point for direction and dialog each. Titles are given to each score, with “death penalty to all involved” to anything <.9. “You’ll see this on FXx a lot” for <1.9. “Redbox or Netflix it” for <2.9. “Check out the Matinee” for <3.9. “A good time at the theater” for <4.9. “Multiple viewings required” for <5.9. And finally, Jeebus-tacular for 6 or above.