A Million Ways to Die in the West (2014) Film Review by Gareth Rhodes

A Million Ways to Die in the West (2014) Directed by Seth MacFarlane. With Seth MacFarlane, Charlize Theron, Liam Neeson, Giovanni Ribisi, Sarah Silverman, Amanda Seyfried and Neil Patrick Harris. 


My girlfriend despises westerns; the bar fights, the dusty land, and how every western ever made has to end with a Mexican standoff. With that, she, like me, loved A Million Ways to Die in the West. Seth Macfarlane’s movie (he co-writes, directs and stars) is an open-ended love letter to the classic western, but one in which he also hilariously berates and sends-up the clichéd format.

MacFarlane plays Albert, a cowardly sheep farmer in the old west. It takes a scene-and-a-half to settle into the tone of his performance, but once you’re aligned, the film is a non-stop laugh-along as MacFarlane plays it from the angle of a man out of time – almost as if Albert has been to the 21st Century and hates all the things about 1882; bar fights, the dusty land, and how every western ever made has to end with a Mexican standoff.

MacFarlane is supported by a hugely talented cast, with an array of brilliant comedic showings from Neil Patrick Harris, Sarah Silverman and Giovanni Ribisi, which are beautifully anchored by two excellent performances from Liam Neeson and Charlize Theron. It is MacFarlane himself, though, who, starring in a film he has written and directed, demonstrates what a genuine master he is, continuing his sharp-witted brand of close-to-the-bone humour in a spoof film that makes you actually care about the characters…no easy task

It’s a brilliant subversion of the western genre, but conversely, one that retains great affection for all the things we romanticise about that era, perhaps best exemplified by Joe McNeely’s rousing score and the breathtaking visuals that open the film – an immediate seduction by MacFarlane which instils a thirst for some old-school wonder and adventure.

The film is home to many cameo appearances, but one, which I won’t ruin, is so perfectly judged that it’s worth the ticket price on its own. In short, A Million Ways to Die in the West is an absolute joy, which bathes itself in the glory and romance of the western, on the way to being a extremely funny combination of self-referential comedy and escapism. 4.5/5


About garethrhodes

Full-time lover of all things creative.
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6 Responses to A Million Ways to Die in the West (2014) Film Review by Gareth Rhodes

  1. Zoë says:

    Nice write up Gareth! I think this is the first positive review I have seen for this movie, to be honest! I do not think that I will ever be watching this – nothing about this tickles my fancy.

  2. Matt says:

    This may be the first nice thing I’ve read about this movie. I’m glad to hear it. I was really hoping this would be good (at least an improvement from Ted) but never got around to it after reading way too many negative reviews.

    • garethrhodes says:

      It’s been unfairly kicked around town by the critics, in my opinion. I laughed constantly, and throughout. I’m fairly the certain the critics ganged-up on this one, for whatever reason.

  3. Chris Evans says:

    This was a good laugh and I always tip my hat to anything involving Seth McFarlane (although I still haven’t seen Ted 2). Have you seen Blazing Saddles? Think you’d enjoy that too.

    • garethrhodes says:

      Yes, Blazing Saddles is a stone cold classic. I think MacFarlane is an underrated talent; he’s great with musical numbers, and a fantastic comedy writer and performer. I’d look forward to anything with his name attached. I do concede, though, that his humour has a sting in its tail, and not everyone likes the skirt quite as close-to-the-bone as he often goes. For me though, he’s hilarious and I love his work.

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