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Misfire in the west

A Million Ways to Die In the West

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With using a genre that has fallen to the wayside Seth MacFarlane brings his newest western piece, “A Million Ways to Die in the West.” After the success of MacFarlane’s first film “Ted,” many were hoping to see a movie as original and creative as the teddy bear buddy comedy. But unfortunately this seems to fall short. Not to say that Seth does not deliver an original concept with his typical smart and crude comedy combination, but it is the fact that the jokes seem to be overused and out of place. For those spoof-film fans that wanted something along the lines of Mel Brookes’ “Blazing Saddles,” sorry to say but they will feel cheated.
Similar to his previous work, MacFarlane includes a formatting style similar to his praised television show “Family Guy.” Punch lines seem to fire away randomly in the story leaving the viewers wondering if the scene was accidently left in the final cut. Jokes such as these can have one wonder if Macfarlane was getting lazy with his writing or he might very well be just a one trick pony. “Ted” was similar in this style as well but was able to incorporate these types of jokes as the story went along. In this picture on the other hand, Seth allows there to be a pause in the plot itself. It can only be compared to someone watching two different films on T.V. and flipping back to one movie when the other is running out of steam.
Another typical Macfarlane addition to this western comedy is the inclusion of a musical moment to the plot. Here is where he normally thrives and creates some wonderfully comedic moments and proves his skills as a writer. But even with this moustache tribute song, written by Joel McNeely, it falls flat and uninspired with no real moments to grab the audiences’ attention. For what could have been the films saving grace, this scene was a huge let down.
There are signs of a good comedy hidden amongst the sheep jokes and average acting ability. The physical comedy that is scattered throughout the film will be able to reach down and extract some laughs from average moviegoer even after subjecting themselves to a drawn out opening and less than likeable characters. Aside from the comedic aspects of the film there are wonderfully filmed landscapes that surround the setting of story. One’s mind can drift back to the time of huge western films with beautifully shot landscapes and settings that show a brighter side to the dangerous Wild West. With shots such as these MacFarlane truly does show his love of the genre.
With only two films under his belt one wonders if a “Ted” sequel can save Seth’s film career. Hopefully in the end everyone can look past this sophomore slump and move on to bigger and better things. MacFarlane still has an amazing knack for writing but may need to try and separate himself further from his television success. By doing this he may be able to bring some consistency to his writing and combine his hard-hitting humor with his heartwarming themes.

Seth MacFarlane as Albert Stark.
Photo by Lorey Sebastian - © 2014 - Universal Pictures