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Million Ways to Die in the West, A


Stars: Seth MacFarlane, Charlize Theron, Liam Neeson, Amanda Seyfried, Giovanni Ribisi, Sarah Silverman, Neil Patrick Harris, Matt Clark, Wes Studi, Jamie Foxx

Director: Seth MacFarlane

A spoof western (with modern-day dialogue) that aims relentlessly for the lowest comedy denominator throughout. The film looks terrific in widescreen and has great pastiche western music, but Blazing Saddles this most certainly ain't.

Bodily function jokes flow like a sewer through a screenplay (co-written by director/star MacFarlane) that has him as a milquetoast sheepman who, hopeless with guns, and dumped by his sweetheart (Seyfried, saddled with a non-character) for the owner (Harris) of a 'moustachery', falls for a gun-totin' western woman (Theron), unaware that she's the wife (a child bride at nine!) of the most fearsome outlaw in the west, a demeaning role for Neeson.

Despite its below-the-belt intentions at all events, the film is actually quite funny at odd times (I particularly liked the idea of the 'sheep who wandered into a whorehouse and made 20 dollars'), but there's a downright disgraceful diarrhoea sequence that makes the one in Bridesmaids look graceful and a good many lowlights besides.

'You don't want to tell me that I'm the problem,' says MacFarlane at one point, and he's not far wide of the mark. Theron's fine and could be even better if the script allowed, but all in all we'd rather see the star (now busy voicing Ted 2), who has a fine Howard Keel-style singing voice, in a proper remake of a western musical. Come to think of it, though, he'd probably revamp it as Seven Brides for Seven Brothels.

There's a cameo (one of several) from Christopher Lloyd and his famous DeLorean car from Back to the Future Part III, also set in the wild west and a far, far better film than this one.

David Quinlan

USA 2014. UK Distributor: Universal. Technicolor.
116 minutes. Widescreen. UK certificate: 15.

Guidance ratings (out of 3): Sex/nudity 1, Violence/Horror 1, Drugs 1, Swearing 3.

Review date: 29 May 2014