Tuesday, April 19, 2016

A Million Ways to Die in the West

A Million Ways to Die in the West ~ Steven Spielberg once predicted the death of the superhero movie, saying it would soon go the way of the Western. This comes from the man who co-created Indiana Jones, a character that is essentially a superhero, lacking only a mask. It wasn't that he said it that bothered me, it was the derision with which he said it. Bad form, Mr. Spielberg.

I think it's a matter of quality not genre. Bad superhero movies may well go the way of bad Westerns, but good movies, no matter the genre, will last. When it comes to bad movies, only the really, really bad ones are remembered. Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull, anyone? And we shall not even speak of Batman v Superman

They still make good Westerns, just sometimes they're in disguise. They wear the trappings of the South like Django Unchained, Japanese theatre like Bunraku, the post-apocalypse like Mad Max, or simple covered in dirt like "Deadwood." I left the remakes of True Grit and 3:10 to Yuma out because I didn't particularly like them, no matter how critically acclaimed they were.

And sometimes a good Western, like in the case of Seth MacFarlane's A Million Ways to Die in the West, it's shrouded in shameless inappropriate humor. I would never have thought it before seeing it, but I loved this flick. Co-written, produced, and directed by MacFarlane, this movie has that old time Western feel, but with that raunchy fall down funny vibe of Blazing Saddles, and even has the dirty authenticity of "Deadwood."

From the start with the opening credits sequence, MacFarlane sets the stage for this film as a classic Western. Old fashioned titles matched with sweeping colorful scenery of the Old West, overlaid with the beautiful score of Joel McNeely, made for an opening that could have been swiped from a sixties John Ford epic. I watched it twice. That good.

Once it's over though, the trademark MacFarlane humor kicks in almost immediately. This is no Blazing Saddles but it's real close, and if you liked Ted or "Family Guy," you will love this. This movie is a gift for Western fans, and piss-your-pants funny for comedy fans. Recommended.

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