A nerd doesn’t like the old West. People die a lot.
There’s a really nice title sequence in A Million Ways to Die in the West, scored to notes that bring back memories of the Western heyday of the 50’s over scenes shot in Monument Valley. The font is lovely too, and it does a very good job of telling you who is involved in the film. Their names are nice and big as well, just so you’re totally clear on who they are.
And, as such, who to blame.
Everything after the titles for AMWTDINW is basically horseshit. And that is also literally the punchline of one of Seth MacFarlane’s gags in this interminable waste of millions of dollars, copious CG and everyone’s talents.
MacFarlane’s previous film Ted was literally a one joke movie – here’s a living teddy bear dropping f-bombs – but that film worked because that one joke is funny. And it had the Flash Gordon sequence.
For his latest, MacFarlane doesn’t have a funny joke to hang his entire film on. It’s more about a guy who appears to have come from the future to set up in the old west and complain about how shit everything is. It’s self-aware and diligently delivered but its entertainment value is roughly that of an aside in a particularly dull recent episode of Family Guy. Yes they still make that show.
It also doesn’t help matters that his character basically comes off as an asshole loser who never stops being a bitch for long enough to actually attempt to enjoy his life. Maybe if you don’t pretend to be fellating a dude he won’t try to put bullets into your facehole.
Ted also had a story and even it was totally familiar (guy finds teddy, guy loses teddy, teddy somehow comes back to potty-mouthed life) at least there was a structure to follow. Here, the film pootles along like a rehearsal for MacFarlane’s comedy routine for a good 30 minutes before Charlize Theron turns up for the shootin’ and romancin’. And still all we’re supposed to care about is the fact that Amanda Seyfried left her drippy boyfriend for the elegantly moustached Neil Patrick Harris.
In fact, this is a film so lacking in incident the official plot synopsis takes you right up to the last few minutes of the film when Liam Neeson’s villain pops up to actually do something. Bear in mind that the exaggerated running time means you have to wait almost two hours for this to actually happen.
This is the bit where I try to think of some positive notes. The supporting cast are all doing their thing, with Charlize Theron showing decent comic timing and the faintly delicious pairing of Sarah Silverman and Giovanni Ribisi hanging around in the wings. Everybody’s working hard which actually makes the end result more tragic as now I just really want to see what this talented crew could do with better material.
If you thought those opening titles were great, just wait til you see how awesome the ending credits are. And that’s because you can be safe in the knowledge that this unredeemable crapfest is finally going to stop happening to your eyeholes.