There are rarer film genres than the Western comedy, but not many. Off the top of my head, only two examples come to mind: the celebrated Mel Brooks’ film “Blazing Saddles” and the time travel romp “Back to the Future Part III.” So when it was announced that Seth MacFarlane, the man behind the animated hits “Family Guy” and “American Dad,” was planning to follow up his live action debut, “Ted,” with a Western comedy, I was interested, if not entirely intrigued.
The resulting film, the aptly titled “A Million Ways to Die in the West,” is just the in-your-face R-rated fare we’ve come to expect from MacFarlane in his live action career. Although some probably wouldn’t agree, there’s room in the cinematic universe for good, raunchy humor, but too often MacFarlane relies on lowbrow humor to get a cheap laugh rather than putting in the effort to make a better overall film. Perhaps the most surprising thing about the movie is how good it could have been if he had the ability to resist the easy joke, usually involving gross-out bathroom humor.
Despite its problems, “A Million Ways to Die in the West” provides a decent number of laughs and should entertain those who can stomach the jokes, which often gravitate to the grossest common denominator. If nothing else, this film shows MacFarlane has the talent to make a solid comedy, if only he can learn a bit of restraint.
The movie is rated R for strong crude and sexual content, language throughout, some violence and drug material.