Saturday, 31 May 2014

Review: A Million Ways To Die In The West

World of Blackout Film Review

A Million Ways To Die In The West Poster

A Million Ways To Die In The West
Cert: 15 / 116 mins / Dir. Seth Macfarlane
WoB Rating: 3/7

You've got to hand it to Seth Macfarlane, he knows how to get great value for money from his cinematographer and composer. Michael Barrett and Joel McNeely go to great lengths to make this film look and sound gorgeous. The sets and costumes are in great keeping with the film's frontier aesthetic, and it seems that everyone spent more time on making this feel like A Western™ than they did A Comedy™.

The film seems to have two jokes in its arsenal; 1) someone falls over, and 2) someone says The Fuck-Word where a punchline should be. The envelope of repetition isn't pushed as far as it was with Ted, but at least in Macfarlane's predecessor I could tell which bits were meant to be funny. His follow-up is full (full) of moments which have the pacing of jokes, but none of the content; just an awkward silence afterwards that tonight's audience didn't realise they were meant to be laughing over. Even the central conceit of the title and trailer seems to be forgotten after the first act, once the pedestrian plot kicks into gear. So not really a million, closer to about twelve.

The only part of the film which made me even smile was Christopher Lloyd's scene (and even that goes on for just a beat too long). Although while I'm on the subject, Ewan McGregor, Ryan Reynolds and Jamie Foxx? Yes, that's how you do a cameo. Macfarlane's botox-fuelled gurning aside, the performances are all strong enough, but the material they have to work with just isn't. Poor Liam Neeson looks like he's wishing for a better screenplay*1, while Charlize Theron seems to he hoping it'll all work out in the edit. If this is what's made the cut, I dread to think of the ad-libbed footage which hit the floor.

A solid idea, badly executed, all in all I found aMWtDitW tiresome. Not because of Seth's confusion between wit and expletives, but more that I got bored waiting for the fun to arrive.

There may be A Million Ways To Die In The West, but a laughter-induced rupture doesn't appear to be one of them. I get the joke, it just isn't funny.

Is the trailer representative of the film?
The bottle/fence gag works in the trailer but not in the film.
The rest of it doesn't work to the same extent as it doesn't work in the trailer

Did I laugh, cry, gasp and sigh when I was supposed to?
I did not laugh.

Does it achieve what it sets out to do?
Not nearly.

Pay at the cinema, Rent on DVD or just wait for it to be on the telly?
You'll probably watch it on DVD/Sky hoping prove me wrong.
I look forward to our conversation, after this

Will I think less of you if we disagree about how good/bad this film is?
Only a little.

Will I watch it again?
I'm looking forward to the Special Edition where they put The Jokes in*2.

Is there a Wilhelm Scream?
Pretty sure I heard one, yeah. It was no consolation.

And if I HAD to put a number on it…

And my question for YOU is…
For those of you who've seen the film, would this have worked better with a different leading man? No, that's a serious question.

*1 And Neeson will do pretty much anything, remember?
*2 Although, true to form, there are a number of lines (and even scenes) in the trailer which don't appear in the film. Like they were overloading the comedic content, or something.

• ^^^ That's dry, British humour, and most likely sarcasm or facetiousness.
• Yen's blog contains harsh language and even harsher notions of propriety. Reader discretion is advised.
• This is a personal blog. The views and opinions expressed here represent my own thoughts (at the time of writing) and not those of the people, institutions or organisations that I may or may not be related with unless stated explicitly.

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