A Million Ways to Die in the West

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“No, I’m not the hero.  I’m the guy in the crowd making fun of the hero’s shirt.”  This is admittedly a good line, but it is also kind of indicative of the whole movie – only mildly amusing.  A Million Ways to Die in the West is A) not as funny as I thought it was going to be, and B) not nearly as funny as it thinks it is.  Since the vast majority of things meant to be funny in the film actually made me grimace and recoil in distaste, sometimes even driving me to vocalize my revulsion (usually along the lines of “Oh, that’s disgusting!”),  I decided to keep track of the bits that genuinely did make me laugh.  It’s not a long list, but longer than I expected it was going to be and you’ll find it below in the photo section.  There would be an even dozen, but there’s one thing I laughed at that I’ll not admit to, hence the list has 11 items.

Throughout the movie I kept saying please oh please, let there be a scene with Seth MacFarlane’s character Albert in an outhouse just so I could caption a picture ‘Albert in the can’. Alas, it was not to be.  The concept behind AMWTDITW  is good – the American west really was incredibly dangerous and while there might not have been quite be a million things that could kill you, it probably came close.  This reminds me of a great quote from Sir Terry Pratchett’s Discworld book The Last Continent where a character inquires about all the dangerous things in a place remarkably similar to Australia.  When whole shelves of books are the answer to his inquiry, he says perhaps it would be easier to just get a list of what isn’t dangerous.  The answer he receives – “Some of the sheep.”

I would have known better if I’d actually realized this was made by the same people who made Ted prior to watching, as that is one of the filthiest, most disgusting movies of all time.  AMWTDITW employs a great deal of idiomatic modern language and profanity that would be anachronistic for the time period.  Come on, writers, use a little more creativity in your choice of words!  Expletives, invective and exclamations of the period are almost as rich as Shakespearean insults.  Why use modern profanity when you say things like ‘Her face looks like a dime’s worth of dog meat’, ‘He looks like the hindquarters of bad luck’, or ‘His mustache smelled like a mildewed saddle blanket after it had been rid on a soreback hoss three hundred miles in August.’  (Google ‘Old West Insults’ and you’ll get a million more of them)  I’m not just saying the writers were less than intelligent for failing to utilize such richness, I’m saying their brain cavities wouldn’t make a drinkin’ cup for a canary. 

Aside from the verbiage choices, the movie is also full of totally unnecessary gross-out moments such as a huge ice block falling on a man’s head with the end result resembling nothing so much as a smashed bug on a windshield.  The rest of the ‘humor’ is either sex related or bathroom related.  The only crowd who think scatology is remotely funny are either the 12 and under crowd or straight males 30 and under.  I also dislike it when writers assume the audience is stupid.  For example, they have a character languidly snuffing a cigar in a glass of whiskey.  Wouldn’t the cigar ignite the alcohol instead?  The lit end would reach the fumes long before being immersed in the liquid, and truly, the scene would have been a lot funnier if they’d gone that route.  It definitely would have made my list.  The story itself is good and you’re bound to find at least some of it funny.  In the end, I’ve given it an apathetic three stars and am already thinking I rated it too high.  – BETHANY

For more on this twisted Western, mosey on over to the Internet Movie Database

From left to right:  Edward (Giovanni Ribisi), Louise (Amanda Seyfried), Clinch (Liam Neeson), Albert (Seth MacFarlane), Anna (Charlize Theron), Foy (Neil Patrick Harris) and Ruth (Sarah Silverman).

Here Begineth the List of Things that Made Me Laugh

#1 – An extremely wooly sheep bumping into a wall.  It’s had the wool grown over its eyes.

#2 – How Edward and Albert keep themselves from getting hurt during a bar fight free-for-all – fake fight with one another.

#3 – Albert talks tough with someone and gesticulates with the stuffed duck pictured.  Every time he says something emphatically, the duck’s head bobs in tandem with its eyes bugging out of its head and I found that hilarious.

#4 – The Learning to Shoot montage.  This was funny in a Wile E. Coyote and the Roadrunner way.  My grandfather would say this guy couldn’t hit the broad side of a barn.

       #5 – The Mustache Dance.  I’ll bet Neil Patrick Harris wouldn’t agree to do the movie unless they gave him a dance.

#6 – This 1-2 punch line.  Anna says the line above, to which Albert responds “It’s true, right?  If two people hate the same things, it creates a bond.  Hate can move mountains.”

#7 – If I put a picture for this one, it would be a spoiler, so let’s just say there’s a tidbit for Back to the Future fans that made me well and truly laugh.


          #8 – Likewise using a picture of this actual bit in the movie would be a spoiler, so I’m using a substitute.  There’s a scene involving a flower that looks a lot like this that had me howling with laughter.

#9 – Giraffic Sheep that speak with the voice of Patrick Stewart, saying ‘Enter when ready’.  (You’re welcome, Star Trek fans, although technically it’s the holodeck computer that says those lines.  Curses, now you know I’m a fan too!)

#10 – This is a behind the scenes moment shot, but the part that had me guffawing happens when the cameras next start rolling.  It involves a long-winded speech and someone dying inconveniently quickly.

          #11 – Django himself makes an appearance and his cameo was the funniest thing in the whole movie.  (Jamie Foxx)

Thus Endeth the List

Old Stump – Population: Idiotic for choosing this place to live.

Sarah Silverman plays Ruth.  Let’s just say she works above a bar.

A Kardashian seems to have gotten into this movie.  (Charlize Theron and Seth MacFarlane)

It would be a safe bet to say everything in the saloon went quiet when Liam Neeson‘s Clinch walks through the clichéd swinging doors.  Not only is he wearing a black hat, he’s dressed entirely in black to boot!

Albert trying his best to imitate the mask from Scream.

I’m deliberately choosing to ignore the double entendre.  (Neil Patrick Harris)

This is something I missed watching the movie.  The guy everyone’s looking at speaks up and answers a question from Albert.  It’s not an actor paid for just one line, it’s actually Ewan McGregor, whom according to IMDB.com, “happened to be around in the area shooting another movie, and was happy to cooperate.”

When Clinch (Liam Neeson) asks a guy a question in the saloon, it isn’t just a random extra, it’s Ryan Reynolds. (No, the question wasn’t “Where is my daughter?!”)  Bill Maher, Kaley Cuoco-Sweeting and Gilbert Gottfried also have cameo appearances.



Photos courtesy of Bluegrass Films, Fuzzy Door Productions, Media Rights, Capital, RGB Media and Universal Pictures (unless otherwise credited in clickable form)


2 thoughts on “A Million Ways to Die in the West

  1. I totally hear that. Most of it had me absolutely cringing, horrified that so many great actors were participating in what could have been great, but was a raunch fest. I watch these things so you don’t have to. =)


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