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Set in 1882 in the American west, Albert is a lowly farmer with a nice girlfriend. But when she leaves him for the more successful and handsome owner of a moustachery store, Albert returns to his lonely daily life of trying to avoid death. Then the mysterious Anna rides into town and captures Albert's interest and heart, but with her deadly husband in town, Albert is going to have to become the western gun-slinging hero he never was. It won't be easy because there are a million ways to die in the west.Written by
When Albert and Anna share a marijuana cookie, a large dust devil is swirling off in the distance, over Anna's left shoulder. See more »
During the barn dance, Giovanni Ribisi's character is among the dancers and at the counter casually sipping his drink. See more »
Some people are born into the wrong time and place. This was the American frontier in 1882, a hard land for hard folk. Food was scarce, disease was rampant, and life was a daily struggle for survival. Hell, this was Miss America in 1880.
[picture of a leathery middle-aged woman]
Holy shit. To build a home and a life in this harsh, unforgiving country required that a man be bold, fearless, and tough as iron. The men who were courageous and resilient were the men who prospered. But ...
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There is a post-credits sequence involving the gunman at the fair from the final scene. See more »
It's 1882 in Arizona, the heartland of the American West. We follow the life of Albert Stark (Seth MacFarlane), an incompetent and inept sheep farmer whose girlfriend Louise (Amanda Seyfried) breaks up with him because of his glaring lack of courage and skill. Depressed and discouraged by how his life is full of disappointment and how every instance of love is then destroyed and robbed from him, Albert finds comfort in Anna (Charlize Theron), a newcomer to his small village. Albert is attracted to her, initially, by her beauty, but realizes she's the courage and confidence he has always hungered for. However, when the infamous West outlaw Clinch Leatherwood (Liam Neeson) arrives in town, Albert realizes that he has just intruded on Clinch and Anna's husband-and-wife relationship, and Clinch is hungry for retribution. On the other hand, Albert also has to find the gunslinging skill in order to battle Louise's new boyfriend - the cocky and wealthy Foy (Neil Patrick Harris) - in a shootout in front of the entire town.
A Million Ways to Die in the West may not have been the best followup to Seth MacFarlane's monster comedy hit Ted just two years ago. Despite critical/audience reception on the film taking a turn for the worse in recent time, I found that film absolutely hilarious in its brazenness and its levels of romance and heart to be on-point for a raunchy comedy of the modern day. A Million Ways to Die in the West feels like it came about when MacFarlane was sitting around a table with a few of his buddies for dinner and the gang of friends got to talking about how life in the American West must have been hell for the simple townspeople who weren't notorious gunslingers or dangerous outlaws. What they then proceeded to concoct was a barrage of events and downsides to living in one of America's most free and lawless times and what was formed was a satire on the American West life.
To be fair, the film has certain merit to it. When the film isn't getting caught up in excessive use of shock humor and gross-out gags and relying on criticizing conventions of the West, it becomes a very funny and often hilarious endeavor. When it, however, resorts to using diarrhea and urinating sheep as it core jokes is when the film becomes a tad insufferable. This is particularly frustrating because we know MacFarlane is capable of so much more than what is presented here.
However, MacFarlane excels when the screenplay calls for delivery of lengthy monologues explaining why the West is such a hellhole. Consider the scene that takes place in a local saloon, where Albert is talking with his close friends about how doctors use unorthodox practices, "modern" medicine kills and harms more than it heals, there is a new "disease of the week" every week, and everything that isn't you in the West wants you dead. This kind of humor is much more low-key and plays different instruments than the abundance of shock humor MacFarlane employs later on in the film. Was he fearful that the humor would be far too low-key and subtle for many to pick up on? Then there's the fact that the film is an unforgivably overlong one-hundred and fifty-six minutes when I initially struggled to see how this film could sustain ninety minutes. Being that it's MacFarlane, scenes drag out, subplots are introduced, musical numbers are introduced, and several little cameos such as the hilarious Bill Maher and Jamie Foxx turn up almost constantly. I am a fan of MacFarlane's rapid-fire style of filmmaking, and I admire this effort for the fact that it has to dodge contemporary pop culture references being that the story takes place in 1882. MacFarlane seemingly used those pop culture references as a cop out for story lines and plot points in his television show Family Guy, especially in the most recent episodes.
It's incredible the cast of characters MacFarlane managed to get to partake in this affair. Theron and Neeson partake in some rare comedic performances to a solid effect, and Sarah Silverman as the town hooker works because of her comedic openness. It's hard to believe the weakest performer at hand is MacFarlane himself, who finds ways to overact in many places and can't convey emotions due to his single-facial expression.
With A Million Ways to Die in the West MacFarlane creates a mildly-amusing writing exercising that turns into a sometimes funny but often middling farce on western life. The musical numbers are entertaining enough, the performances and the cameos are something to anticipate, and the aftertaste it leaves is not bitter nor offensive; just somewhat underwhelming.
Starring: Seth MacFarlane, Charlize Theron, Liam Neeson, Giovanni Ribisi, Sarah Silverman, Neil Patrick Harris, and Amanda Seyfried. Directed by: Seth MacFarlane.
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