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One way to watch A Million Ways to Die in the West

(from right to left) Seyfried, MacFarlane, Theron
(from right to left) Seyfried, MacFarlane, TheronPhoto by Anthony Harvey/Getty Images

A Million Ways to Die In the West

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Mel Brooks' Blazing Saddles (1974) is not just an icon for the, to put it lightly, obscure genre of 'comedy Westerns', but is singularly an icon for comedic films in general. But for those of you who want a more updated and raunchy version, that actually has an ending, Seth MacFarlane's second go at directing, A Million Ways to Die in the West (2014), is what you're looking for.

With a typical 'hero's journey' plot line, Albert Stark (Seth MacFarlane) goes on a crusade to win back the heart of his ex-girlfriend, Louise (Amanda Seyfried), against the mustache-toting Foy (Neal Patrick Harris) but ends up in the middle of a heated marital dispute between his gun-slinging trainer Anna (Charlize Theron) and her killer husband, the "fastest gun in the territory" Clinch Leatherwood (Liam Neeson).

Unlike most Westerns, and even in the light of its forebearer, Blazing Saddles, no one attempts to bring the authentic 1882 old timey southern drawl to their performance, which is a relief. Many of the jokes are purely physical comedy, but much of the lines, even those revealed in the trailer, are well timed and entertaining. The density of jokes is comparable to Wedding Crashers (2005) and The Hangover (2009), and some are so fast it was hard to tell how many other people in the audience caught on. But the jokes that hit, hit the bullseye.

This being MacFarlane's first full on-screen and in-person role (most know him only from his voice-acting abilities on TV or from Ted [2012]), he gave a more than amiable performance, not doing more than he needed to or seeming too inexplicably out of place.

The cameo's, on the other hand, were fantastically out of place. Even with the briefest of appearances from Bill Maher, Christopher Lloyd, and Ryan Reynolds, the comedy we come to expect from the mind that gave us Family Guy is there in herds (of sheep).

All-in-all, the film was over-the-top and crazy, but in the ridiculous and hilarious kind of way that's required to make, arguably, the most desolate time in the most desolate place in our nations history, as funny as possible. Definitely got my moneys worth.