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"A Million Ways to Die in the West": Seth MacFarlane Continues to Inflict Himself Upon the Culture 

Wednesday, May 28 2014

Surround Seth MacFarlane with an illustrious cast of stars — including Charlize Theron, Liam Neeson, Amanda Seyfried, Neil Patrick Harris, Sarah Silverman, and Giovanni Ribisi — and he's still a terrible actor. Such is the central problem with A Million Ways to Die in the West, a Western comedy in which the Family Guy and Ted creator vainly attempts to generate laughs from the contrast between his 19th-century setting and his nerdy sheep-farmer protagonist Albert's habit of speaking like a 21st-century wiseass. If that sounds like a dreary device upon which to base a film, it's merely one of many issues plaguing this dud, which spends most of its prolonged 116-minute runtime segueing between wannabe-scandalous profanity and filth, and insufferable narrative clichés involving Albert's efforts to win back his ex-girlfriend (Seyfried) from a mustached jerk (Patrick Harris) with the help of a beauty (Theron) who's married to a notorious gunslinger (Neeson). The proceedings' humor is primarily predicated on inappropriateness, be it of a sexual or racist sort. Yet the material's desire to shock is almost as juvenile as the time spent on unfunny, momentum-killing dramatic developments is frustrating. Through it all, MacFarlane's co-stars gamely ham it up in bits involving facial semen, hats full of diarrhea, and other assorted nastiness, sullying their own names alongside a headliner whose own screen presence is gratingly wooden. Spending copious time bashing the Old West as nightmarishly archaic, the smutty, smart-alecky A Million Ways to Die in the West does little more than make one pine for an era before the cinema du MacFarlane.

About The Author

Nick Schager


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