Saturday, May 31, 2014

MacFarlane's 'Million Ways' Is A Dirty Comedy

 By Darlene Donloe
 The West isn’t a safe place. It would seem there are a million ways to die out there.

From the guy that brought you Ted comes A Million Ways To Die In The West, a raunchy, naughty comedy that is a send up about rural life in the west circa Arizona 1882.

The film, now open nationwide, is produced, directed, co-written (Alec Sulkin and Wellesley Wild) and stars Seth MacFarlane, who is no stranger to writing on the edge.   

The western spoof, a distant cousin to Blazing Saddles, is edgy, gross, crass, dirty, eye-opening, nasty, juvenile, but is also smart and really funny.

Seth MacFarlane, who hosted the 2013 Oscars®, plays Albert Stark, a hapless, cowering sheep farmer in the Old West who loses his girl (Amanda Seyfried) when he ducks out of a fight, only to be taught how to shoot by the wife (Charlize Theron) of an infamous gunfighter (Liam Neeson).

Stark hates the West. He hates everything about the West.
“We live in a terrible place and time,” says Stark. “Everything that’s not you wants to kill you.”

In the film, Stark tries to talk his way out of every situation and talk his way into every situation.  Although MacFarlane is no actor, he is surrounded by some heavyweights including Theron, Neeson, Seyfried, Giovanni Ribisi and Neil Patrick Harris, who all help to buoy the film.

Theron, who looks out of place in the film, surprisingly has some comedic chops, Neeson plays a great bad guy and Harris is high-larious as a vain bad boy who dons a curling handlebar mustache.

Giovanni Ribisi plays, Edward, Stark’s best friend, who is a prim, virginal shoe repairman whose girlfriend, Ruth (Sarah Silverman), is a prostitute who services up to 15 clients a day. Ruth rather nonchalantly recaps her day’s work to Edward – complete with blow-by-blow descriptions (pun intended).  Ironically, Ruth insists that she and Edward not consummate their relationship until marriage because they are good Christians. (**blank stare**)

The script is choppy, but the film doesn’t try to fool anyone. It is what it is. There is even a section in the film when MacFarlane walks out of frame and then back into frame to explain a joke that could have gone over the head of some viewers.

There are some choice cameos in the film – with the very last one answering a question this reviewer had throughout the film. Unfortunately, I can’t reveal the question without a spoiler alert.  Lets just say there is a huge omission in the film.

A Million Ways to Die in the West (Universal) is rated R (Violence/Strong Sexual Content/Profanity/Drug Content; Under 17 requires accompanying parent or adult guardian for scatological humor).  Running time: 1 hour 54 minutes.

The movie is directed by Seth MacFarlane; written by MacFarlane, Alec Sulkin and Wellesley Wild. It stars Seth MacFarlane, Charlize Theron, Amanda Seyfried, Giovanni Ribisi, Neil Patrick Harris, Sarah Silverman and Liam Neeson.

On the DONLOE SCALE: D (don’t bother), O (oh, no), N (needs work), L (likeable), O (OK) and E (excellent), A Million Ways To Die In The West gets an O (OK).

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