A Million Ways to Die in the West is a strange but also hilarious movie that’s neither a parody nor a “regular” movie. As its title suggests it offers a sobering look at the harsh realities of life during the Wild West period of American history. So, a pitch-black comedy with an all-star cast and a very specific brand of humor. That humor is coming from the director, writer, and star of this show, Seth MacFarland. This was the second feature film for Mr. Family Guy after Ted starring Mark Wahlberg. The budget was $40 million so you can expect the production values to be high. The movie looks, sounds, and feels like a big movie, something that feels odd considering that it’s not taking itself too seriously.
I also think that fans of Western movies will like it as well because it goes down the list of all the possible cliches we’ve seen in countless other productions. Additionally, the locations we will be visiting are all stunningly gorgeous. Vivid and delightfully saturated colors will make the dramatic landscapes pop out of the screen. And the small town looks like any of the iconic small towns in the Wild West. This is not our first encounter with this particular blend of Western and comedy genres. Mel Brooks’s Blazing Saddles brightened up the seventies and Chevy Chase’s Three Amigos, the eighties. All the characters we’re going to meet in A Million Ways to Die in the West are great.
From the sex worker Ruth, her boyfriend Edward, over skilled gunslinger Anna to the main bad guy Clinch. And they’re played by even better actors like Charlize Theron, Liam Neeson, and Neil Patrick Harris. Even Sarah Silverman was great although I’m not her biggest fan. I think that it goes without saying that a movie with a title like A Million Ways to Die in the West is going to have a couple of graphic scenes. We will see people get brutally crushed, impaled, and eaten by animals in very vivid detail. So, this is a movie for adults with a full R rating and a lot of raunchy jokes and scenes.
It is the year of our lord Satan 1882 and life on the frontier is not easy. People live short and difficult lives, oftentimes just trying to get to the next day. One of those people is Albert Stark, a simple sheep farmer who’s all too well aware of all the dangers around him. This has turned him into a cynical and paranoid man but when a beautiful girl appears in his town, he’ll have to get out of his comfort zone.
A Million Way to Die in the West features brisk pacing but also a quite longish running time of over two hours. Two hours and eight minutes to be precise, if you’re watching the extended version. I also don’t want you to think that this movie is just a series of sketches because it most certainly is not. We have a pretty coherent main story and a lot of character-driven subplots. And on top of all of that, we have an ordinary and rational modern man put into this wild environment. A man who’s going to keep pointing out aspects of this lifestyle that are weird, brutal, or simply crazy. And he’s going to offer that social commentary in an intelligent and funny way.
Finally, if you’re wondering if A Million Ways to Die in the West is a movie worth watching let me just tell you this: it has a shitting scene. And, as we all know, if you want to make a good movie, you need to have a good shitting scene. I’m just going to mention Dumb and Dumber and leave it at that. So, do check out this great movie. And if you’re looking for more of the same, The Other Guys is a great choice.