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A MILLION WAYS TO DIE IN THE WEST

★★

THEATRICAL REVIEW
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By Jess Fenton
29th May 2014
From the makers of ‘Ted’ (just in case you didn’t already know) comes comes the most unwestern Western of all time: ‘A Million Ways to Die in the West’. Writer/director/star Seth MacFarlane himself claims the film to be an 80s teen comedy set in the wild west of 1882, by taking Western clichés, modern language, the presence of hindsight and a whole mess of sex and whore jokes to create... something that should have been a lot better.

In the crappy Arizona town of Old Stump, where you can die from anything from wild animals to getting your photo taken at the fair, lives Albert Stark. Albert is a sheep farmer, and a bad one at that. He’s an outcast in his community thanks to his deep intellect and understanding that 1882 is, quite frankly, shit. He is a man out of time with no money, one friend (Giovanni Ribisi) and a herd of runaway sheep. But he does have a beautiful girlfriend Louise (Amanda Seyfried) - that is, until she dumps him for Foy (Neil Patrick Harris), the suave owner of the Moustachery. When Albert saves the life of mysterious newcomer Anna (Charlize Theron) during one of the many bar brawls, she decides to help him woo back his love. However, the pending arrival of Clinch (Liam Neeson), the baddest gun slinger in the west, threatens to bring a new kind of danger to Old Stump - especially since Clinch is Anna’s husband.

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Stepping out from behind the microphone, MacFarlane has plonked himself centre-stage as the lead character - which is a bold move, considering he’s never had that kind of relationship with his audience before. Yes, MacFarlane has oodles of charisma, that's undeniable, but if his stint as Oscars host wasn't enough, ‘A Million Ways’ only further confirms that Seth should stick to what he’s best at - known for and be heard and not seen. It’s an odd thing to be critical about a protagonist, but MacFarlane has far too much screen time, especially solo or engaged in one-sided conversations.

MacFarlane has far too much screen time, especially solo or engaged in one-sided conversations.

While displaying some real genius, the comedy is on the lazy and unfinished side, almost as though they lost the final script and decided to go with the first draft instead. It plays like a lot of one-liners and referential jokes loosely tied together with a story that has lots of cool stuff like gun fights, chases on horseback, whores who don’t believe in sex before marriage, American Indians who dispense wise words and powerful psychotropics, etcetera etcetera.

If you love ‘Family Guy’ and ‘Ted’ you’ll like this, but it won’t become a classic. ‘Blazing Saddles’ it ain’t.

FAST FACTS
RELEASE DATE: 29/05/2014
RUN TIME: 1h 56m
CAST: Seth Macfarlane
Charlize Theron
Amanda Seyfried
Sarah Silverman
Liam Neeson
Neil Patrick Harris
Giovanni Ribisi
WRITER/DIRECTOR: Seth Macfarlane
PRODUCERS: Scott Stuber
Jason Clark
www.amillionways.com.au
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