Adelaide's independent news


A Million Ways to Die in the West


Comments Print article

A Million Ways to Die in the West is another Seth MacFarlane project.  Some readers may have seen his previous effort, Ted, featuring a foul-mouthed teddy bear.

MacFarlane produces, directs, co-writes and stars in this new picture, a combination that might normally ring alarm bells in any movie.  Yet he has accomplished something appealing despite (some might say because of) the low-end comedic style that predominates.  How is that so?

A Million Ways is dressed with the rough language and morés of contemporary films, despite being set in the 1880s American west.  That contrast is obviously meant to be a selling point.  When its humour is not focused on sex or violence or drugs, it is persistently and confrontingly of the toilet variety.  Much of this is clearly shock for shock’s sake.  That, too, will get bums on seats.

The plot is corny and borrows deliberately from a hundred western forbears, and yet there is redemptive wit in the script and the actors appear to be enjoying their roles.  MacFarlane is charming as hapless sheep-farmer Albert who is unlucky in love, but then meets the newly arrived Anna (Charlize Theron), the woman who may just turn around his life or see him dying in the attempt.  Liam Neeson plays baddie Clinch, a mean gunslinger with the ethics of a rattlesnake.  You know that Albert and Clinch’s paths are bound to cross.

The film was made in Monument Valley, Utah, and relishes wide shots of the beautiful landscape in different lights.  Such attention to aesthetics was unexpected and the cinematography is frequently stunning.

There is a spot-on Big Western Movie musical theme, and a bit of intertextuality with a Back to the Future reference.  The movie obliquely acknowledges much earlier kinds of western satires such as Evil Roy Slade, Blazing Saddles and a host of Bob Hope-style matinee offerings.

It is R-rated and definitely won’t appeal to everyone, but it carries off its excesses with a wink to the audience that says MacFarlane knows he’s pushing boundaries.  This is sometimes very touch and go, but he succeeds.



We value local independent journalism. We hope you do too.

InDaily provides valuable, local independent journalism in South Australia. As a news organisation it offers an alternative to The Advertiser, a different voice and a closer look at what is happening in our city and state for free. Any contribution to help fund our work is appreciated. Please click below to become an InDaily supporter.

Powered by PressPatron


Show comments Hide comments
Will my comment be published? Read the guidelines.

More Film stories

Loading next article

Subscribe to InDaily – it’s free!

South Australia’s locally owned, independent source of digital news.

Subscribe now and go in the monthly draw* for your chance to WIN a $100 voucher!

Subscribe free here

*Terms and conditions apply

Welcome back!

Did you know it’s FREE to subscribe?

Subscribe now and go in the monthly draw* for your chance to WIN a $100 voucher!


*Terms and conditions apply