A Million Ways to Die in the West

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(2014)

In 1880s Old Stump, cowardly Arizona sheep herder Seth MacFarlane is befriended by Charlize Theron, wife of notorious gunslinger Liam Neeson. No doubt Family Guy guy MacFarlane intended to make a mould-breaking western comedy in the vein of Mel Brooks’ classic Blazing Saddles. But his gloating vanity project never catches fire. It just steams. More than once, MacFarlane casually makes blacks the butt of his jokes (a post-credits cameo lamely attempts to rectify this) whereas Mel made bigotry the subject of his. Brooks made a point of having Richard Pryor on the writing team. If only the writer or the director here could have had a quiet word with their leading man. But that was never going to happen in the case of ‘Three Hats’ MacFarlane. At times, when Joel McNeely’s music riffs on Elmer Bernstein themes by way of Copland’s Rodeo, it almost seems like an actual western. But, in the end, Monument Valley has never seemed so shrunk and shabby. And that sound you hear is tumbleweed.

Certificate: 15