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A Million Ways to Die in the West

A Million Ways to Die in the West
A review by C J Dee
  • Director: Seth MacFarlane
  • Starring: Seth MacFarlane, Charlize Theron, Amanda Seyfried, Liam Neeson, Giovanni Ribisi, Neil Patrick Harris, Sarah Silverman
  • Other notable appearances: Christopher Lloyd, Ewan McGregor, Gilbert Gottfried, Ryan Reynolds, Jamie Foxx, Sir Patrick Stewart
  • Running time: 116 minutes
  • Watch this if you liked: The Lone Ranger, Cowboys & Aliens, Back to the Future Part III
  • Rating: ★★★★☆ 4/5

Albert Stark (MacFarlane) is a cowardly and pessimistic sheep farmer who has just been dumped by girlfriend Louise (Seyfried) for moustached man Foy (Harris). When the mysterious Anna (Theron) arrives in town she befriends Albert after he saves her during a bar fight. Anna decides the best way for Albert to win back Louise’s love is to make her jealous by appearing to have coupled. Eventually the ruse works a little too well and the pair fall in love. This is complicated by the fact that Anna is married to one of the meanest gunslingers in the west (Neeson).

A Million Ways to Die in the West is one of the most laugh out loud funny western comedies I have seen. MacFarlane has given the western genre a modern twist by using contemporary language and idioms. This tactic seemed a bit stilted to begin with but, once I realised it was intentionally used to enhance the humour and flexibility, it soon grew on me.

A Million Ways to Die in the West is rife with cameos both on screen and verbal. Blink and you’ll miss Ryan Reynolds and Ewan McGregor. Gilbert Gottfried as an Abraham Lincoln impersonator was funny. Jamie Foxx had a very well played cameo.

My favourite however, and I imagine it will be most people’s, was Christopher Lloyd’s cameo – brilliant. How does one have a verbal cameo? Sir Patrick Stewart does a voice over for a total of two lines. During a scene where MacFarlane is speaking “Native American” the subtitles tell us he is saying “Fine!” but if you listen closely, you will hear he is saying the name of an actress who may be referred to in modern vernacular as “fine”.

The main cast performed well in their roles. MacFarlane and Theron had great chemistry. Silverman played her niche role of the female most likely to make filthy jokes and she excelled. It was interesting to see Seyfried and Harris playing a form of villain and Neeson is always brilliant. Good. Bad. He’s the guy with the screen.

Overall A Million Ways to Die in the West is a great comedy for fans of westerns or MacFarlane’s earlier work. If you want to watch something you need to think about or invest in emotionally, I would recommend seeing The Fault in Our Stars instead. But A Million Ways to Die in the West might be for you if you’re looking for a good laugh; some light-hearted entertainment; or have watched westerns wondering if there’s anyone who just hates living in the wild west.

Nalini is an award-winning writer and artist as well as managing editor of Dark Matter Zine.


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