Family Guy’s Seth MacFarlane tries his luck with big screen for a second time. Now only with real actors in a refreshingly fun Wild West setting.
Director: Seth MacFarlane | Stars: Seth MacFarlane, Charlize Theron, Liam Neeson
Budget: 40 million | Box office: 30th May
It was really great that Family Guy’s creator Seth MacFarlane decided to go into filmmaking. After announcing his debut Ted on April 1st couple of years ago everybody thought that was just a joke, but it ended up being quite an exceptional and hilarious movie. His style and humor of course has, let‘s say, an acquired taste, but if you even occasionally enjoy watching Peter or Stan talking some nonsense, the new film is really a must see.
I‘m starting to feel that I was right about western films returning to a spotlight after a long absence, albeit in different forms. Cowboys & Aliens, Lone Ranger and of course Django all showed the Wild West from different angles and A Million Ways to Die in the West (AMWTDITW?) continues the same brave path.
The major brave decision Seth MacFarlane made was to put himself in a main role as a sheep farmer who hates the West and is dumped by his girlfriend. It seems film-goers in general have a negative assumption in such cases and I‘m not sure everybody will like to see him after last years’ Oscars ceremony. And in parts, especially in the beginning, A Million Ways feels a bit like MacFarlanes’ personal stand up show – there‘s just too much of him even for my liking.
But everything evens out when Charlize Theron steps in. Now that seems the perfect role for her. It feels like she really enjoyed playing the gun-slinging lady, who arrives in a town to wait for her unloved husband – the most dangerous criminal in the West. She offers to help MacFarlane’s Albert to learn how to shoot and in general get out of the misery and hatred for all things in the West. The sincerity of this love story really surprised me. It seems MacFarlane (director) is not only capable of telling nasty jokes.
Of course there’s plenty of that here too, this time as a title suggests centered around death and other dangers of the West. There’s actually plenty to laugh at western stereotypes and MacFarlane mixes in contemporary perspective to kind of distance his character and the viewer from this theater. Not everything is as funny as it might be expected, for me there were too many references, but there are some really nice and thoughtful gems. Especially the recurring story about smiling in the old photos.
A Million Ways to Die in the West just leaves you happy after watching it. And happy to leave to our world and not the Old West where you can die from gunshots, wild animals, Indians’ attacks, various types of snakes, coal mining, hygiene related diseases and so on and so forth.