Tuesday, September 2, 2014
FAIRFIELD-SUISUN, CALIFORNIA
99 CENTS

Review: ‘Million Ways’ is Seth’s take on Western

Film Review A Million Ways to Die in the West

This image released by Universal Pictures shows Seth MacFarlane in a scene from "A Million Ways to Die in the West." (AP Photo/Universal Pictures)

By
From page B3 | May 30, 2014 |

John DeFore

The Hollywood Reporter

LOS ANGELES — Seth MacFarlane might’ve picked a safer place to make his lead-acting debut than “A Million Ways to Die in the West,” his directorial follow-up to 2012′s surprisingly successful “Ted.” The marketplace doesn’t seem to be crying out for Westerns, after all — be they earnest revivals, satires, or genre hybrids involving extra-terrestrials — and the undeniably of-his-moment MacFarlane is, as the script indirectly admits, a strange fit for the genre. Stocking the supporting cast with top-drawer talent, he gives most of his co-stars little to do besides attract our attention on movie posters.

A winking mid-film cameo prompts viewers to wonder how MacFarlane might have fared playing a time-traveler from our era stranded in the Old West. Instead, his 1880s sheep farmer Albert Stark simply talks like someone born in and transplanted from the 20th century. “We live in a terrible place and time,” Albert tells friends Edward (Giovanni Ribisi) and Ruth (Sarah Silverman), assessing his surroundings as if seeing medical and social realities through our eyes. There are too many ways to die out here, he laments — though most of the shock-violence gags the movie employs demonstrate the risks not of living in an age before modern medicine but of inhabiting a world whose authors aren’t terribly gifted at slapstick.

Dumped by his longtime sweetheart Louise (Amanda Seyfried), Albert is about ready to leave town when he meets Anna (Charlize Theron), a newcomer who appreciates his gentle personality in a way locals don’t. Perhaps that’s because she’s secretly betrothed to the meanest cuss in these parts, a bandit called Clinch (Liam Neeson), who has sent her here to hide out while he dodges the law for a spell.

(The preceding sentence contains more Western-ese than the entire script MacFarlane wrote with Alec Sulkin and Wellesley Wild, which dates itself instead with stuff like “oh, snap,” ”oh no I did-uhnt,” and “douche.”)

While Albert frets about Louise’s new romance with fancy-pants shopkeeper Foy (Neil Patrick Harris, whose vain moustache-tonic merchant is a reliable laugh-getter), Anna takes an inexplicable interest in helping him stand up for himself. Why? Though MacFarlane eventually demonstrates a knack for low-key flirty humor, Albert’s appeal at the start of their friendship is hard to see. One assumes Anna knows how much money Ted will make in 130 or so years and wants to get in on the ground floor.

In a rare display of nerve, Albert challenges Foy to a duel; as Anna offers him the gunslinger lessons that will inevitably lead to love, the film’s supporting cast all but vanishes from the film. (Just as well, perhaps, as the screenplay is about to run out of ways to poke fun at the fact that Albert’s buddy Edward is a virgin in a chaste relationship with Ruth, the town’s busiest whore.) The romance plot could hardly be more familiar, but at least it plays out against a landscape so dramatic one almost suspects the filmmakers composited a few extra sandstone formations into Monument Valley. Theron carries almost all the weight here, given her partner’s unexpected blandness, which makes it vaguely insulting when the third act turns her into a helpless damsel in need of his rescue.

Though the film is hardly laugh-free, its uneven jokes appear to have breezed through a very forgiving editing process. “You really shouldn’t drink and horse,” Edward tells a soused Albert as he heads out on horseback — a bizarre turn of phrase that presumably sounded funnier to somebody than the more sense-making “drink and ride.” The leave-it-all-in approach leads to a nearly two-hour running time that looks all the more indulgent given how much invention Blazing Saddles packed into an hour-and-a-half.

“A Million Ways to Die in the West,” a Universal Pictures release, is rated R by the Motion Picture Association of America for “strong crude and sexual content, language throughout, some violence and drug material.” Running time: 116 minutes.

The Associated Press

The Associated Press

LEAVE A COMMENT

Discussion | No comments

The Daily Republic does not necessarily condone the comments here, nor does it review every post. Read our full policy

.

Solano News

Labor Day not a holiday for everyone

By Amy Maginnis-Honey | From Page: A3, 2 Comments | Gallery

 
Labor Day breakfast introduces union-backed candidates

By Susan Hiland | From Page: A3, 2 Comments | Gallery

Pool provides last dose of summer fun in the sun

By Amy Maginnis-Honey | From Page: A3 | Gallery

 
SafeQuest schedules peer counseling training course

By Susan Hiland | From Page: A5

 
Fairfield police log: Aug. 31, 2014

By Susan Hiland | From Page: A12

 
Suisun City police log: Aug. 31, 2014

By Susan Hiland | From Page: A12

Suisun City police log: Aug. 30, 2014

By Susan Hiland | From Page: A12

 
Fairfield police log: Aug. 30, 2014

By Susan Hiland | From Page: A12

.

US / World

VP Biden says workers deserve ‘fair share’

By The Associated Press | From Page: , 3 Comments | Gallery

 
Obama: ‘Revving’ economy calls for higher wages

By The Associated Press | From Page: , 3 Comments | Gallery

Senegal monitors contacts of 1st Ebola patient

By The Associated Press | From Page:

 
San Francisco to be 1st to test urban farming law

By The Associated Press | From Page:

GOP challenger tries novel tactics against Brown

By The Associated Press | From Page: | Gallery

 
US eating habits improve a bit – except among poor

By The Associated Press | From Page: , 3 Comments | Gallery

 
No gray area: Beliefs shape views of Brown killing

By The Associated Press | From Page: , 1 Comment | Gallery

Americans detained in North Korea call for US help

By The Associated Press | From Page: | Gallery

 
Iraqi prime minister pledges to root out militants

By The Associated Press | From Page: | Gallery

Poland’s PM: Ukraine’s war must be stopped now

By The Associated Press | From Page: | Gallery

 
Pro-Russian rebels lower demands in peace talks

By The Associated Press | From Page: , 2 Comments | Gallery

US helicopter crashes in Gulf of Aden; all rescued

By The Associated Press | From Page:

 
.

Living

Community Calendar: Sept. 2, 2014

By Susan Hiland | From Page:

 
.

Entertainment

Inquiries begin into nude celebrity photo leaks

By The Associated Press | From Page: | Gallery

 
‘Guardians’ tops Labor Day, summer box office

By The Associated Press | From Page: | Gallery

TVGrid

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A11

 
.

Sports

Kirk rallies to win the Deutsche Bank

By The Associated Press | From Page:

 
Rockies top Giants after losing end of suspended game

By The Associated Press | From Page:

Dunn homers in 1st at-bat as A’s top Mariners

By The Associated Press | From Page:

 
Right guard Boone passes physical, rejoins 49ers

By The Associated Press | From Page:

Raiders name rookie Derek Carr as starting QB

By The Associated Press | From Page: B1

 
Armijo beats Vanden 2-0 to claim All-City boys soccer title

By Brian Arnold | From Page: B1 | Gallery

Armed with new deal, Chiefs’ Smith looks forward

By The Associated Press | From Page:

 
Column: Stewart’s Chase status doesn’t matter

By The Associated Press | From Page:

 
Raiders ink CB Dowling, 9 others to practice squad

By The Associated Press | From Page:

Serena Williams, Djokovic roll to US Open quarters

By The Associated Press | From Page:

 
Houston Astros fire manager Bo Porter

By The Associated Press | From Page:

Hamels, 3 Phillies relievers no-hit Braves

By The Associated Press | From Page:

 
.

Business

Markets drift as Wall Street has day off

By The Associated Press | From Page:

 
Austerity debate flares as Europe recovery fades

By The Associated Press | From Page: | Gallery

Civil disobedience expected in fast-food pay fight

By The Associated Press | From Page: , 8 Comments | Gallery

 
.

Obituaries

.

Comics

Beetle Bailey Sept 2

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B6

 
Zits Sept 2

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B6

Wizard of Id Sept 2

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B6

 
Sally Forth Sept 2

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B6

Bridge Sept 2

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B7

 
Blondie Sept 2

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B6

Rose is Rose Sept 2

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B6

 
Get Fuzzy Sept 2

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B6

Sudoku Sept 2

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B7

 
B.C. Sept 2

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B6

Baldo Sept 2

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B6

 
Frank and Ernest Sept 2

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B6

Crossword Sept 2

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B7

 
Dilbert Sept 2

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B6

For Better or Worse Sept 2

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B6

 
Peanuts Sept 2

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B6

Cryptoquote Sept 2

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B7

 
Garfield Sept 2

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B6

Word Sleuth Sept 2

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B7