Universal(NEW YORK) — A Million Ways to Die in the West, the red band trailer, is hilarious.
A Million Ways to Die in the West, the movie, stinks.
There’s no denying that writer/director/star Seth MacFarlane is a funny guy. TV’s Family Guy is genius, and his raunchy 2012 summer comedy Ted was a hilarious hit. Yet what MacFarlane’s excellent reboot of the Cosmos series with physicist Neil deGrasse Tyson (yup, he was behind that, too) does to advance our knowledge of science and the universe, A Million Ways to Die in the West does the exact opposite for humor.
Almost the entire movie feels like a comedian testing out new material that doesn’t work. MacFarlane plays Albert, a sheep farmer in 1882 Arizona. It’s a terrible place. How do we know? Because Albert tells us so — over and over and over and over again. When he’s not telling us how terrible things are, we’re given the same jokes, over and over and over and over again. The movie should be titled A Million Ways to Tell the Same Joke. And when we’re not being treated to different iterations of the same joke, we’re getting diarrhea in a hat (that’s not a metaphor — it’s an actual scene in the movie) and a recycled version of There’s Something About Mary’s hair gel scene, only this time it involves the side of Sarah Silverman’s face.
Might as well tell you about the so-called plot. Albert gets dumped by his girlfriend, played by Amanda Seyfried, making the Old West for him an even more miserable place than it already was. Then along comes Charlize Theron’s Anna, who, unbeknownst to Albert, is the wife of Liam Neeson’s Clinch, the deadliest gun in the territory. Anna teaches Albert how to shoot, instills in him a sense of self-worth, and, of course, they fall for each other. Neil Patrick Harris plays Seyfried’s new boyfriend, Foy, a man with a fancy mustache who owns a fancy mustache shop. Foy is the film’s most consistently funny character, and even that’s due to NPH’s excellent comedic choices, rather than the character itself.
In fairness, A Million Ways to Die in the West does include a few genuinely funny moments, but they’re few and far between, and, like the other jokes, they’re often used more than once.
MacFarlane may have predicted critics aren’t going to like A Million Ways to Die in the West because of a personal vendetta against him and his previous work. The truth is, critics aren’t going to like this movie because it’s just not particularly funny.
Two out of five stars.
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