Movie Review: A Million Ways To Gross In The West | HumorOutcasts

Movie Review: A Million Ways To Gross In The West

June 23, 2014

Hollywood takes great pride and joy in “pushing the envelope”. So much so that you’re not likely to get as much critical acclaim if your TV show or movie doesn’t try something over the top: Just a little more nudity, cursing, violence, or general grossness than has been generally allowed in the past.

Two of my favorite shows are “The Walking Dead” and “Fargo”, both of which would have been R rated and never allowed near TV when I was a kid. However, let me suggest something that today’s Hollywood creators would find shocking:

Just because you can push the envelope doesn’t mean you have to push the envelope.

And so we come to “A Million Ways To Die In The West”. This picture was made by Seth MacFarlane, who’s well known for being as offensive as possible in his very funny show, “Family Guy”. What I did not expect—and this doesn’t spoil the plot—was to actually see a sheep penis, and to actually get a good look at a hat full of diarrhea.

Was it shocking? Yes, just as the F-bomb used to be shocking before it became boring in its overuse. Was it gross? Well, yeah. Was it funny? Did it add anything to the movie? Just the opposite. The same goes in other areas: For instance, a scene involving a huge ice block was funny, until we see blood and gore splatter. Then—not so much.

Sometimes the envelope is there for a reason.

MacFarlane plays a sheep farmer named Albert who falls for a mysterious newcomer in town, played by the scene-stealing Charlize Theron. Unfortunately for him, the woman’s boyfriend is Clinch, the deadliest gunslinger in the West (Liam Neeson, who sadly has little to do.) Albert must find his courage and get over his ex-girlfriend even as townspeople fall like dominos around him because there are, after all, a million ways to die in the West.

The cast is overall wonderful, especially Theron and Neil Patrick Harris, and we get some great cameos along the way (the best of which is spoiled in some trailers.) While some viewers didn’t like MacFarlane in his role, I thought he did well playing the straight man as the smart but naïve Albert.

As for the plot, I got a little whiplash: Part was a pure parody, but in the other parts MacFarlane plays it serious. Sometimes we’re looking at amazing Western scenery, other times a hooker’s telling her virginal boyfriend exactly what she’s doing to earn extra money. Much as MacFarlane enjoys his drug jokes and potty humor, I think he’s also sentimental at heart.

So, would I recommend “A Million Ways To Die In The West”? Yep: It’s mostly fun and funny—if you can stomach it.

Entertainment Value: 3 out of 4 M&M’s, but not the brown ones. I won’t be eating the brown ones for a while.

Oscar Potential: 1 out of 4 M&M’s. There’s always cinematography or music.


Finally, a movie that appreciates a good mustache.

Finally, a movie that appreciates a good mustache.

Mark R Hunter

Mark R Hunter is the author of three romantic comedies: Radio Red, Storm Chaser, and its sequel, The Notorious Ian Grant, as well as a related story collection, Storm Chaser Shorts. He also wrote a young adult adventure, The No-Campfire Girls, and a humor collection, Slightly Off the Mark. In addition, he collaborated with his wife, Emily, on the history books Images of America: Albion and Noble County, Smoky Days and Sleepless Nights: A Century or So With The Albion Fire Department, and Hoosier Hysterical. Mark’s work also appeared in the anthologies My Funny Valentine and Strange Portals: Ink Slingers’ Fantasy/Horror Anthology. For two decades Mark R Hunter has been an emergency dispatcher for the Noble County Sheriff Department. He’s served over 32 years as a volunteer for the Albion Fire Department, holding such positions as safety officer, training officer, secretary, and public information officer. He also has done public relations writing for the Noble County Relay For Life, among other organizations, and served two terms on the Albion Town Council. When asked if he has any free time, he laughs hysterically. Mark lives in Albion, Indiana, with his wife and editor Emily, a cowardly ball python named Lucius, and a loving, scary dog named Beowulf. He has two daughters and twin grandsons, and so naturally is considering writing a children’s book.

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6 Responses to Movie Review: A Million Ways To Gross In The West

  1. Kathy Minicozzi
    June 23, 2014 at 11:19 pm

    I haven’t seen this movie yet. Thanks for the warning. 😉

    • June 24, 2014 at 12:53 am

      It’s definitely good to have warnings in cases like this!

  2. June 23, 2014 at 9:46 pm

    I am a huge Seth MacFarlane fan and think he is super talented, but too many poop jokes can ruin the fun. I will see this movie though!

    • June 24, 2014 at 12:53 am

      My wife and I are big fans of Family Guy — although it also goes overboard, from time to time.

  3. June 23, 2014 at 7:38 pm

    I agree, Mr. Hunter. I found myself frustrated with the gross-out, pee-pee-ka-ka humor because the movie also contained some brilliantly funny and intelligent laugh out loud jokes as well. I guess he is just trying to please everyone. And the poo jokes really busted up the audience in the theater.

    Not my people.

    • June 24, 2014 at 12:55 am

      You said what I did, in 400 fewer words! That’s the mark of a truly great writer.

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