8 Reasons To 'Blazing Saddles' Before You See 'A Million Ways to Die in the West'
Seth MacFarlane’s western spoof A Million Ways to Die in the West opens this weekend and, based on its trailers, we already know this about the film: There will be sheep, there will be silliness, and there will be lots and lots of poop/fart/dick jokes. It’s a Seth MacFarlane joint, after all. But the film is also a knowing nod to Mel Brooks' 1974 classic, Blazing Saddles. And, no doubt, MacFarlane is hoping his film will be just as successful. The Family Guy creator has written, directed, and, for the first time, is starring in his creation alongside heavy-hitters like Charlize Theron, Neil Patrick Harris, Liam Neeson, Sarah Silverman, and Amanda Seyfried. It’s already being boasted as one of the biggest comedies of the summer, which is no surprise considering its all-star cast and MacFarlane’s immense following.
The movie is also stylistically a big shift from most of today’s dominant comedies. Whether it’s the buddy cop genre (The Heat, 21 Jump Street) or the Judd Apatow empire, most comedies being released to theaters are not the niche, highly stylized spoofs that MacFarlane has made. And all of this makes A Million Ways to Die an intriguing summer movie. But before you jump on the covered bandwagon, it’s important to note that A Million Ways to Die in the West owes its (soon-to-be) success and its very concept to Blazing Saddles. Which is exactly why you have to see the classic film before you fill MacFarlane's seats.
Brooks' Western comedy took on race, imperialism, religion, and American macho buffoonery. The film tells the story of a corrupt Western town (where nearly everyone is named Johnson) that gets turned on its head when a black sheriff takes over. When Blazing Saddles came out, it was an immediate game-changer in how it balanced slapstick, political satire, and genre spoofing. Will A Million Ways to Die top it? Likely not, because...
There will never be a better fart joke than this:
A poop/fart/dick joke has to be well-earned. This is the MOST well earned in cinematic history.
The title track will get stuck in your head for days.
Yep, even the music in this film is pitch-perfect comedy.
Mel Brooks is Required Viewing for any Comedy fan.
Along with Blazing Saddles, Mel Brooks' entire catalogue is a juggernaut of groundbreaking hilarity. History of the World, Young Frankenstein, Spaceballs and Robin Hood: Men in Tights practically define the entire spoof genre.
It is endlessly quotable.
Step aside, Anchorman, et al., Blazing Saddles reigns supreme in the field of quotability.
It is proof that vulgarity has to be smart to work.
Mel Brooks may have made one of the most offensive films of all time when he made Blazing Saddles (the frequent use of the N-bomb is enough to make anyone guffaw), but he also made one of the smartest comedies ever made. Based on the simple comedic principle that repetition is hilarious, Brooks turned the horrors of racism into satirical absurdity. The film also mocks terrible behavior rather than its victims.
You might know him as Willy Wonka, but Gene Wilder’s career went far beyond the Chocolate Factory. A star in many of Brooks’ films, Wilder used his wide-eyed wonder in combination with some serious anxiety to create many of the funniest characters ever seen on screen.
He may have been a classically trained serious actor, but Little’s performance in Blazing Saddles is achingly hilarious. His deadpan reactions and genuine emotion grounded this out-there Western and gave it the weight it needed to turn silliness into satire.
For starters, her character's name is Lili Von Shtupp, so she's already hilarious. Kahn is also perhaps one of the greatest, and most underrated comedic actors in film history. Her burlesque act in Blazing Saddles is a veritable feminist anthem. And something tells us MacFarlane's A Million Ways won't completely follow suit.
Images: Warner Bros.; SpaceMonkee/Imgur