'A Million Ways To Die In The West' Review Roundup
Seth MacFarlane’s first outing as a leading man in A Million Ways to Die in the West is miss among critics who don’t seem to be falling under the Family Guy creator’s comic spell.
MacFarlane’s reputation for controversial comedy and his successful directorial debut, Ted (2012), have now culminated in this satirical Western co-starring Charlize Theron, Liam Neeson, Amanda Seyfried, Giovanni Ribsi, Neil Patrick Harris and Sarah Silverman.
Critics appear unimpressed by MacFarlane’s script, co-written by Alec Sulkin and Wellesley Wild – two frequent MacFarlane collaborators – and none are impressed with MacFarlane’s step into the spotlight playing the protagonist, Albert.
“But nothing in the movie is quite so limiting as the presence of MacFarlane himself in a lead role he proves ill fit to carry. In his first live-action lead, he lumbers through the film spouting dialogue that sounds like an extended standup riff about the horrors of the Old West, all delivered with a modern, ironic-hipster smirk…. MacFarlane, who rose to prominence as an ingenious voice actor, proves bland in the flesh, and his unmodulated delivery eventually runs as dry as the desert sands.” – Scott Foundas, Variety
In fact, Buzzfeed’s Alison Willmore titled her review ‘Seth MacFarlane Is Not Hollywood’s Next Great Leading Man.' Willmore points to MacFarlane’s decidedly frat-boy humor persona as the reason MacFarlane doesn’t quite make it as a leading man. And, not one review failed to mention MacFarlane’s disastrous Oscars bit “We Saw Your Boobs” as an example of the comedian’s ill-advised comedic missteps.
“The thing is, love or hate MacFarlane’s brand of humor, his smug, brotastic perona is basically the opposite of lovable. In A Million Ways to Die in the West, it’s a giant, self-created obstacle he doesn’t manage to overcome,” Willmore explained.
“The deeper problem is the way the director uses political incorrectness like a blunt instrument. Mocking convention, religion ethnicities, etc., is a long comic tradition and, well done, it can provide insight and laughs. But the pejorative way West floats the references is problematic rather than provocative,” wrote Betsy Sharkey of the Los Angeles Times.
While MacFarlane received dull reviews, critics credit the supporting cast for making the weak material work.
“Theron carries almost all the weight here, given her partner’s unexpected blandness, which makes it vaguely insulting when the third act turns her into a helpless damsel in need of his rescue.” – John DeFore, The Hollywood Reporter
“And while the self-satisfied MacFarlane may give himself a little too much credit and face time as a leading man…Theron displays a stunning set of razor-sharp comedic chops that she’s rarely been given the chance to show off.” –Chris Nashawaty. EW
“MacFarlane has corralled a great cast, which makes it especially disappointing that the movie’s merely OK. There are some amusing jokes – a Christopher Lloyd cameo is the highlight – but MacFarlane ultimately relies too much on gross-out gags with no great payoff.” – Elizabeth Weitzman, New York Daily News
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