A MILLION WAYS TO DIE IN THE WEST
A Thousand Ways To Be Crude and Obscene
Release Date: May 30, 2014
Audience: Older teenagers and adults
Runtime: E: ** A Thousand Ways To Be
Crude and Obscene **
Distributor: Universal Pictures/Comcast
Director: Seth MacFarlane
Address Comments To:Brian L. Roberts, Chairman/CEO/President, Comcast Corp.
Stephen Burke, CEO, and Ron Meyer, Vice Chairman, NBC Universal (a subsidiary of Comcast)
Jeff Shell, President, Universal Studios
Diana Langley, Chairman, Universal Pictures
100 Universal City Plaza
Universal City, CA 91608-1085
Phone: (818) 777-1000; Web Page: www.universalstudios.com
The movie is co-written and directed by Seth MacFarlane, the creator of the enormously popular yet highly offensive animated series FAMILY GUY and AMERICAN DAD on the Fox TV network, as well as the highly raunchy R-rated comedy TED from 2012. Having made tons of money for Hollywood, MacFarlane had the chance to make any kind of movie he wanted, and he chose a Western comedy.
Bringing life to this dormant genre was a challenge enough, but MacFarlane also audaciously decided to star in the movie as well. The result is a mixed bag. The movie aims to be an outstanding heir to the raunchy Western classic BLAZING SADDLES on an artistic level, but its non-stop use of foul language and frequent sexual humor renders it extremely problematic for Christian and media-wise viewers and an absolute must-avoid for families with children and teenagers.
The movie follows MacFarlane as Albert, a sheepherder living in the Wild West in 1882, surrounded by tough-talking gunslingers and lewd cowboys who can kill a man from 1000 yards with one shot. Albert can’t hit the broad side of a barn when he takes aim, though, and he’s scoffed at by both the townspeople and his own parents for being a coward.
MILLION introduces the audience to Albert on a day where his longtime girlfriend, Louise (Amanda Seyfried), dumps him in favor of his longtime archrival, the far more successful Foy (Neil Patrick Harris). Foy sports a ridiculous mustache and owns a store that specializes in mustache maintenance products. Utterly frustrated with his pathetic life, Albert is ready to leave for a new life in San Francisco when he saves a beautiful woman named Anna (Charlize Theron) from a bar fight.
He and Anna become fast friends. Albert pours his heart out to her, but Anna remains mysteriously quiet about her past. That’s because, unknown to Albert, Anna is the wife of a dangerous bandit named Clinch (Liam Neeson), who had her hide away from him after a gold robbery.
Anna is gorgeous, but she’s also tomboyish. She teaches Albert to shoot over the course of a week so he can have a gunfight with Foy to win Louise’s heart. When a member of Clinch’s gang sees her kissing Albert, he suddenly faces a threat from Clinch too.
That’s the basic plot of MILLION, but it’s packed wall to wall with raunchy gags, plus a string of comically shocking sight gags that kill people. These gags include a man who gets gored by a rampaging bull and another man who is crushed by a giant block of ice right just as he’s delivering it for the townspeople’s summer satisfaction. MacFarlane makes plenty of astute anachronistic jokes about how horrible life in the Old West had been, along with a pretty frequent stream of flatulence jokes topped by a gross comical scene of a villain trying to delay a diarrhea attack in hopes of not losing his aim during a gun duel.
Notorious, self-described “feminist” comic Sarah Silverman also amps up the raunch factor, as a prostitute who will let 10 guys a day have their way with her. Despite this, she tells her long-suffering, virginal boyfriend (Giovanni Ribisi) they need to save sex for their wedding night. Most of these scenes are silly and juvenile as much as they are lewd and offensive.
All in all, though MacFarlane clearly has some talent, A MILLION WAYS TO DIE IN THE WEST is, like his TV shows, more offensive and annoying than clever. The lewd content and foul language make the movie excessive, unacceptable viewing.
A MILLION WAYS TO DIE IN THE WEST is packed with raunchy gags and foul language, plus a string of comically shocking sight gags that kill people. There’s also a lot of scatological humor. The comical tone is silly and juvenile as well as lewd and offensive, with some sweet parts and real comedy inserted. Overall, A MILLION WAYS TO DIE IN THE WEST is more offensive and annoying than clever.