“We should all wear coffins as clothes.”
Set in 1882, Albert (MacFarlane) is a fish-out-of-water in the Old West who doesn’t fit in because of his nerdy analytical skills. He is a social outcast as he naturally rages against the violence and tedium of his home town and time.
His lady love, Louise (Amanda Seyfried), is underwhelmed and after a gunfight that Albert weasels out of breaks off their year and a half long relationship. She ends up courting with a suave moustache man, Foy (Neil Patrick Harris).
Devastated, Albert ventures to fight for her and faces multiple public embarrassments. It’s only after two strangers, Anna (Cherlize Theron) and her brother, come to town that Albert realizes his own worth and finds that love is, and should be, an adventure.
Chocked full of crude buffoonery, Seth MacFarlane fans will be the ones to appreciate this film. Obvious and rudimentary physical humor, fart jokes, brutality and violence are the foundation of the comedy score. Anyone who is sensitive to their Christian beliefs might be offended by the laughs taken at the Christian believer’s expense.
Albert’s best friend is engaged to a Christian whore and the town pastor is a murderer. There is plenty of film devoted to the hypocrisy of Christianity in this atheist’s picnic.
Irreverence to culture and history are also staples of “A Million Ways to Die in the West,” though not in a smart and critical way, but in the unsophisticated approach that defines this overlong movie.
Yet, “A Million Ways” doesn’t do everything wrong. There is beautiful landscape and use of color. The humor inherent in the fish-out-of-water tale is charming. The modern dialogue and perspective juxtaposed with the era is fantastic. There is a nice little nod to Kansas City. And Neil Patrick Harris again shows us why he is a star. He is brilliant.
Anyone comparing this film, however, to “Blazing Saddles” is not your friend. They mislead you. Tremendously. “A Million Ways to Die in the West,” because of its leaky plot, uninspired performances and basic comedy does not compare, though it does not try to.
This movie is overloaded with lewdness and violence with not enough wit. In a word, tasteless. It’s the kind of film that disappoints just to know some of our favorite actors known for their sophistication are involved, like Theron.
Existing fans of MacFarlane may enjoy it. Maybe.