A couple of years ago, man of a thousand voices Seth MacFarlane brought his brand of humour to Western comedy A Million Ways To Die In West, a feature he directs, co-writes and stars in (not as a bear, this time).
The film didn't exactly wow critics and it basically flew by, somehow making a profit on the way despite less-than-flattering reviews.
The film itself goes for an old-fashioned look but a defiantly anachronistic and modern take on the subgenre with characters speaking like people would today and the odd pop culture reference. It's not a completely new idea and it's something that works much better in a cartoon than it does in a live-action film but it can definitely work. Mel Brooks always could make that kind of thing funny. Unfortunately, here, it's like the film is trying much too hard to make that a hilarious aspect of the movie when it's, in fact, one of its weakest ideas. The concept that people in the Old West could die of pretty much anything, anytime is a much funnier one but the filmmakers don't really follow that through. Instead, the plot quickly settles into a predictable rom-com storyline in which sheep farmer Albert (Seth MacFarlane) falls for Anna (Charlize Theron), the wife of an outlaw.
The film admittedly has its amusing moments including an entertainingly menacing Liam Neeson, some likeable slapstick, a scene in which Neil Patrick Harris is forced to take a s*** in a hat in public, some fun cameos, Sarah Silverman is terrific as Giovanni Ribisi's prostitute girlfriend, the goofy, surreal hallucinogenic sequence... There was definitely potential here to make a great Western comedy. It's a shame, then, that the film brings nothing new story or character-wise to the genre and that its modern take makes it fall quite flat as a whole. You don't buy MacFarlane as a guy living in the Old West or even as a sheep farmer in this movie for one second as it looks like he literally just put on cowboy clothes and walked on set without changing his normal appearance whatsoever then invited a bunch of celebrity pals to act wacky around him.
There's really not much more to say about A Million Ways to Die In The West: this is a comedy with some good ideas but a lot of bad ones and altogether not enough creativity or laughs to make it completely worthwhile. While it's not an unpleasant watch, it is surprisingly forgettable and will leave you feeling pretty "meh" about the whole thing.
Blazing Saddles this ain't.