DIR: Seth MacFarlane • WRI: Seth MacFarlane, Alec Sulkin, Wellesley Wild • PRO: Jason Clark, Seth MacFarlane, Joseph J. Micucci, Scott Stuberf • ED: Jeff Freeman • DOP. Michael Barrett • DES: Stephen J. Lineweaver • MUS: Joel McNeely • CAST: Charlize Theron, Neil Patrick Harris, Sarah Silverman, Seth MacFarlane
I was nervously excited when first I heard that Seth MacFarlane would turn his hand to live-action parody. I enjoy parody with affection; think The Cornetto Trilogy or even Family Guy’s Star Wars spin-offs, which George Lucas himself was so happy with he let them use the music. I was slightly more nervous when I learnt MacFarlane would be tackling the Western genre. Would saddles blaze?
Saddles do not even smoulder.
Arizona, 1882: Everyman Albert Stark (MacFarlane) loses his sweetheart Louise (Amanda Seyfried) to Neil Patrick Harris’ moustache enthusiast. Albert mopes about with his mate (Giovanni Ribisi) until Charlize Theron arrives in town and provides Albert with a man-makeover, let’s hope her husband Clinch (Liam Neeson) doesn’t arrive before the third act. That would be inappropriate.
This is awful. When serious films fail to this extent it is often funny but when your aim is to be funny the failure seems all too serious. The whole film feels like sitting through a dinner party with David Brent knowing you’ll have to ask him for a favour at some point. At one point Albert literally stops the action to explain a joke he has just made.
I could banter on extensively about the many (million) ways A Million Ways bothered me but that would likely get as boring as the film. I counted six laughs:, a cinema snack I’d like a go at (sugared butter shavings), a cameo too good for this film and a psychedelic sequence narrated by Patrick Stewart in the entertainment corner. At a stretch that will soak up six minutes of this dull-fest, which borders on two hours. It’s Alvy Singer in the Old West without the loveable neurosis. It’s low-brow humour with no wit or reason-for-being.
It’s a million ways to tell the same bad joke. In the West. Don’t listen.
16 (See IFCO for details)
A Million Ways to Die in the West is released on 30th May 2014