Movies: A Million Ways to Die in the West

I honestly had very few expectations for this movie. It received mediocre reviews (at best) and bombed at the box office, and it looked like a stellar example of everything funny being loaded into the trailer.

It's because I had such low expectations that I was able to enjoy A Million Ways to Die in the West.

Truly, it's pretty much exactly what it seems: Seth MacFarlane doing his thing. Just don't look away or close your eyes, else you'll picture Brian from Family Guy as the main character.

I'll admit, bathroom humor isn't really my thing, so I can do without the sex and fart and poop jokes. But I feel that way about all of MacFarlane's work; there's always some of it I don't enjoy. And yet there's enough that I do enjoy that it can sometimes be worth putting up with the rest. AMWTDITW (Jesus, really?) falls squarely in the same category.

The story is of a sheep farmer named Albert (MacFarlane), hating his life in Big Stump, Arizona, circa 1882. Mostly he hates that his girlfriend has just dumped him in favor of the local Moustachery owner (Neil Patrick Harris doing what he does best). But then lovely Anna (Charlize Theron) comes to town . . . Too bad she's married to the meanest gunslinger alive (Liam Neeson).

You can probably fill in the blanks. Giovanni Ribisi is Albert's best friend, and he's dating local whore-with-a-heart-of-gold Sarah Silverman. And so on and so forth.

I'm not really giving the plot credit. I was actually pleasantly surprised the movie had a plot, much less one that actually hangs together rather well. I think I expected a bunch of gags and set pieces without much to connect them, but no, this had a steady, if rote, story.

What I really think is that it should have been a stage musical. In fact, it's too bad it didn't fare better at the box office, because I think AMWTDITW (seriously? couldn't come up with anything shorter?) would better suit the stage than the screen.

In short, I enjoyed it for what it is. Which is more than I expected to do. AMWTDITW is cute and delivers more or less exactly what it promises.

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