After taking over the world of animation with Family Guy, American Dad and the Cleveland Show, Seth MacFarlane stepped out into the real world at his first crack at directing a feature film with Ted and dominated the box office. Now he is stepping behind and in front of the camera once again for his latest film A Million Ways To Die In The West taking his brand of humor into the old west, but will it continue his entertainment domination or will it get shot down at high noon?
A Million Ways To Die In The West follows a cowardly farmer who begins to fall for the mysterious new woman in town and must put his new-found courage to the test when her husband, a notorious gun-slinger, announces his arrival. The old west is one of those time periods that works great for comedy when done right, but sadly as a whole this film missed the mark. There are some really funny moments and fans of MacFarlane will no doubt enjoy it, but most others will probably not be impressed. While there is an actual story here with some heart, the first half of the film feels forced and struggles to find its footing. Once it finally finds its pacing it does get quite a bit better, but instead of coming together cleverly like Ted did, it manages to feel more like just a sequence of bits meshed together. MacFarlane does a fine job as the lead, but never really feels like anything more than himself in the west. The film sports a great supporting cast including Charlize Theron, Amanda Seyfried, Liam Neeson, Giovanni Ribisi, Neil Patrick Harris, Sarah Silverman, and Wes Studi but none of them really have a chance to do anything that lives up to the greatness of these performers. Visually the film is amazing to look at especially with an old school classic western opening sequence that lets you know right from the beginning that this is a western through and through.
When it works it works great, but when it stumbles it falls all the way to the ground. There is clearly a better film here hidden behind the nonsense, but it seemed like MacFarlane wanted to make a film for himself and he did just that. This is one that will likely find an audience after multiple viewings and in the rental market, but just doesn’t hit the mark like his previous effort.