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'A Million Ways to Die in the West' review: Beating farts out of a dead horse

A Million Ways to Die In the West


"A Million Ways to Die in the West" is now playing in theaters.

Seth MacFarlane as Albert Stark.
Seth MacFarlane as Albert Stark.
Photo courtesy of Universal pictures, used with permission.
One of many official posters for "A Million Ways to Die in the West."
Photo courtesy of Universal Pictures, used with permission.

Set in Arizona in 1882, "A Million Ways to Die in the West" follows a sheep farmer named Albert Stark (Seth MacFarlane) who has no idea how to fire a gun and loses every ounce of confidence he has when his girlfriend Louise (Amanda Seyfried) leaves him for a pompous, well-groomed gentleman named Foy (Neil Patrick Harris).

With Albert's devoted Christian friend Edward (Giovanni Ribisi) and his promiscuous brothel working girlfriend Ruth (Sarah Silverman) with him every step of the way, Albert finds a new sense of purpose after meeting Anna (Charlize Theron); the new girl in town. Unfortunately for Albert, Anna is connected to the most dangerous gunslinger in the Wild West; Clinch Leatherwood (Liam Neeson).

MacFarlane's follow-up to "Ted" isn't nearly as good as his feature film debut. While the two films are very different, "A Million Ways to Die in the West" fails to have any big laughs and is worth nothing more than a chuckle or two at best.

The highlight of the film is the amount of cameos this western comedy is able to cram into its nearly two hour duration; Dennis Haskins from "Saved by the Bell," Gilbert Gottfried, Bill Maher, Alex Borstein, Ryan Reynolds, Patrick Stewart, and even Jamie Foxx appear in small roles. There's even a nod to "Back to the Future" that is hands down the best part of the film.

Albert's freak out sequence after the pot cookie is fairly entertaining and the mustache song is catchier than it has any right to be. The slavery shooting gallery is sure to be a talking point for the film, but aside from the cameos Neil Patrick Harris is the funniest member of the cast. His corny jokes followed by his ridiculous laugh are pretty funny at times and his love for his mustache just sends the Foy character completely into outrageous territory.

The biggest mistake "A Million Ways to Die in the West" makes is the same mistake "Family Guy" tends to make on a weekly basis; most of the jokes go on much longer than they should. "Family Guy" has made it a point to drag certain jokes out for several minutes, entire episodes, and sometimes even having jokes that are stretched out over several weeks and spanning a number of episodes. "A Million Ways to Die in the West" takes the same approach, but it results in the setups to the jokes revealing way too much causing the execution and follow-up humor to be almost painful.

Being R-rated and using gross out humor is one thing, but Seth MacFarlane skips putting that protective toilet seat cover down and decides to just spread urine and fecal matter all over his audience without remorse. "A Million Ways to Die in the West" covers every bodily fluid including urine, feces, and semen and that doesn't even cover the amount of farts in the film.

What's unfortunate is that the Edward and Albert characters are very easy to relate to. Edward is a different spin on the nice guy character and like all nice guys he finishes last by being the last guy in town to finally have sex. Meanwhile Albert can't seem to catch a break even though he's a good guy living in a town that kills its inhabitants with absolutely everything under the sun. Albert is screwed so he kind of just gives up on life until he meets the girl of his dreams.

Speaking as someone who enjoys toilet humor, it's a sad day when you have to come into a theater with moist towelettes, determine if the toilet seat is in fact down, and exclaim that enough is enough. "A Million Ways to Die in the West" spends more time trying to push the buttons of its audience rather than entertaining it. The comedy is amusing in small doses, but as a whole it's about three horseshoes away from being an atrocity to the comedy genre.

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