A MILLION WAYS TO DIE IN THE WEST is a raunchy, scatological Western spoof. It centers on a wimpy sheepherder who must toughen up when faced with two gun duels in one week. Albert is a sheepherder living in the Wild West in 1882. He’s surrounded by tough-talking gunslingers and lewd cowboys who can kill a man with one shot, but Albert can’t hit the broad side of a barn. Frustrated with his pathetic life, Albert is ready to leave for a new life in San Francisco when he saves a beautiful woman from a bar fight. Comical complications ensue, especially when the woman’s mean husband, a gunslinging bandit, comes to town.
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.
(PaPaPa, AbAb, C, B, LLL, VV, SS, N, AA, DD, MM) Very strong, slightly mixed worldview with some strong Anti-Christian content where a Christian character is shown to be a hypocrite and lead character says he doesn’t think church can help him but he’s shown attending church in one scene and other Christian characters, including a minister, are shown without bias, including going to church, and protagonist is a comical, somewhat kind-hearted hero who shows forgiveness to an enemy at one point; more than 200 obscenities and profanities, plus quite a few scatological jokes include sound effects of enormous bouts of flatulence and one villain beset with a powerful attack of diarrhea, where it’s implied he relieves himself into two mens’ hats, then one hat topples over and the diarrhea is shown looking like chili pouring forth; strong and light, mostly comical, violence includes people die in all sorts of silly ways including getting hit by a buffalo or crushed by a giant block of ice (which shows blood as a result), several gunfights, people shot, comical target practice, villain knocked out with a rock, woman choked and slapped, and a couple bar fights played for laughs, including broken bottle goes into man’s neck but not extremely graphic; strong raunchy sexual content includes beginnings of apparent fornication between Christian man (hero’s best friend) and prostitute girlfriend and bride to be, two leads kiss and hold hands, and crude references (many verbal and some implied) to oral sex, self abuse, prostitution, and joke about sheep going into a brothel and coming out with $20; no female nudity, but some cleavage and main villain passes out with his buttocks exposed and his wife sticks a flower there; casual drinking throughout and a big comical drunk scene; smoking rolled cigarettes and psychedelic drug use in comical scene with Native Americans; and, strong miscellaneous immorality includes main villain robs an old man of his gold after shooting him, same villain threatens his wife by briefly choking her and later slapping her, female lead hides the fact she’s married to the villain from the hero but it’s made clear she was forced into marriage as a younger woman, and some racial humor includes calling Asians “yellow” when it’s discussed that they’re cowardly, another joke about Asian eyes, and a shooting target gallery uses caricatures of slaves as targets and is called “Runaway Slave,” but black character gets comedic revenge in the last moment against the target-range owner.
A MILLION WAYS TO DIE IN THE WEST is a raunchy, scatological spoof of Westerns centering on a wimpy sheepherder who learns to toughen up when faced with two gun duels in the same week. The movie has a very strong, slightly mixed pagan worldview, with a running series of jokes that casts a Christian character as a hypocrite, while other believers are shown matter-of-factly attending church with a minister who’s also shown without mockery.
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.
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