Stuck Between 'Maleficent' & 'A Million Ways to Die in the West'? Here's What To Do
As a woman, it's easy to hate Seth MacFarlane. He's the guy behind frat boy-loved shows like Family Guy and American Dad, after all, and he's responsible for the infamous "We Saw Your Boobs" song at last year's Oscars, among other cringeworthy pieces of "female friendly" pop culture. Yet in the past, I've aways given the comedian the benefit of the doubt; he seems well-intentioned enough, and despite not expecting to like Ted, his 2012 blockbuster, I thought it was one of the funniest movies that summer. Still, I know that for every good joke he tells, there might be a sexist one right behind it. So when I got tickets to an advanced screening of MacFarlane's newest film, A Million Ways to Die in the West , I was cautiously optimistic. Would this be as good as Ted was, or as offensive as the worst episodes of Family Guy?
The answer, surprisingly, is none of the above. A Million Ways to Die in the West isn't as funny as Ted, as uncomfortable as Family Guy, or even as provocative as MacFarlane's stint at the Oscars. Instead, it's just... boring. Although there are a few great moments, the vast majority of the Western is filled with repetitive jokes, one-note characters, and flat, tiresome storylines. Early reviews seem to agree with my take, and while the film will surely do well at the box office, it's doubtful it'll make much more of an impact in viewers' memories as an episode of American Dad.
Thankfully, A Million Ways isn't the only movie out this weekend. In addition to a number of indies, there's Maleficent , Disney's Sleeping Beauty retelling that stars Angelina Jolie as the famed villain. Even if you think you have a high tolerance for MacFarlane's humor, do yourself a favor and see Maleficent instead of A Million Ways. Five reasons why:
Maleficent is about a witch (Angelina Jolie) who, deeply hurt after a betrayal, takes out her anger on a human child. The movie explores Maleficent's background and motives, as well as her relationship with Aurora (Elle Fanning), a young girl with more power than she realizes. Imelda Staunton, Juno Temple, and Lesley Manville co-star.
A Million Ways, meanwhile, doesn't pass the Bechdel test, despite having three women in main roles. Charlize Theron's Anna is given little to do except tell Albert (MacFarlane) that nice guys deserve women, Amanda Seyfried's Louise has about five lines, and the main joke about Ruth (Sarah Silverman) is that she's a prostitute. Even Family Guy's Meg gets more respect than this.
It (Probably) Doesn't Have Poop Jokes
A Million Ways is not an unfunny movie. It's not laugh-out-loud hilarious, but plenty of the film is perfectly entertaining — except for the scatology jokes. There is an enormous amount of poop-related humor throughout the film, including a scene in which Neil Patrick Harris does things you can never, ever unsee. I'm all for dirty humor here or there, but A Million Ways relies on it to a gross, uncomfortable extent. I haven't yet seen Maleficent, but I highly doubt that its PG rating came from too much potty humor.
It's More Visually Appealing
One only has to watch the trailer for Maleficent to see how stunning this movie will likely be. The visuals are dark and haunting, and the costumes for Jolie and Fanning are truly striking. A Million Ways, meanwhile, is set in the late 1800s Wild West. The fashion consists of too-long mustaches, frilly hair, and dresses with cages inside of them. It's certainly loud, but in terms of appeal, Maleficent takes the cake.
It Gives Its Actors Things to Do
For a movie with such a star-studded cast, A Million Ways really only lets one actor, MacFarlane, have anything to do. As said above, Theron, Silverman, and Seyfried all are pretty one-note, and the male actors, Neil Patrick Harris Liam Neeson, and Giovanni Ribsi, fare about the same. With more story and dialogue, each of these characters could've been compelling, but as is, all of them fade into the background.
It's too early to know how Maleficent will treat all of its actors, but if the trailer and promotional videos are any indication, several of them, not just Jolie, will have significant story arcs.
It's Simply A Better Movie
Sample review for Maleficent : "With a dynamic blend of live action and effects, this is a dark, dazzling and psychologically nuanced fairy-tale reinvention."
Images: Disney; Universal