Yearning for John Ford

A Million Ways to Die in the West Universal Rating: 14A 116 minutes

One supposes it was the scenic vistas of Monument Valley in the opening credits of A Million Ways to Die in the West that brought to mind John Ford’s classic westerns shot there, usually starring John Wayne. But there is no comparison. This new western, while occasionally amusing, is a badly written and badly produced spoof of the genre.

Co-written, co-produced, directed and starring Seth MacFarlane it aims low and scores a bullseye. MacFarlane plays a sheep farmer in the old west who constantly talks about how dangerous it is to live there and sees death all around him.

Charlize Theron, playing the wife of a dangerous outlaw (Liam Neeson) shows up to show him a more positive life and tries to teach him the basics of gunfighting before he goes up against Neeson.

The actually funny gags are outnumbered by gross and silly ones. But this movie will do well at the box office with lots of sex, poop jokes and continuous use of the F-word. Those who find crapping in public and the sight of Neeson’s bare bum (although it was probably an extra’s) amusing will be rewarded, as long as you don’t mind the irritating blend of humour and violence. It might have been a nice television skit, but it fails badly as a movie.

However, it does inspire one to head for the library and borrow a copy of Stagecoach or The Searchers.

Rating: two deer out of five

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Alf Cryderman is a Red Deer freelance writer and old movie buff.