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MOVIE: A Million Ways to Die in the West

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Givenchy L'eau en Rose

Munya Vomo

Okay, let’s all agree on something: Seth MacFarlane is not the funniest guy around. And while he is not ugly, he wouldn’t make the next issue of GQ.

He is, however, almost likeable, with a smile that would make any toothpaste salesman envious. You couldn’t put him next to the Brad Pitts and Leonardo Di Caprios of the acting world as they are out of his league. But he has his merits.

This is the guy who hosted the Oscars last year and once we got past his mannequin-like features we warmed up to the idea of him being in charge.

One of his greatest triumphs, which is probably why we will be stuck with him for a while, is his writing and directing of the hilarious film, Ted. The project was a surprise hit that had so many people investing in the teddy bear character that it even has several apps on sale. In the film the teddy bear, Ted, is best friends with an adult Mark Wahlberg who will not give his childhood toy away. Think Allen, from The Hangover, only as a fluffy toy, and you’ll have Ted.

Unfortunately, the success of that film bred ideas in MacFarlane’s mind and he thought of giving us what he hoped would be his next masterpiece, A Million Ways to Die in the West. The only other title that’s longer than this one is the Wayans’ satire, the ’90s hit film Don’t Be a Menace to South Central While Drinking Juice in the Hood.

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A scene from the Seth MacFarlane comedy A Million Ways to Die in the West, featuring (from left) Amanda Seyfried, Neil Patrick Harris, MacFarlane and Charlize Theron

Once you get past that you have to deal with the fact that the film is a Western. Now, let’s be real, although that genre was favoured by movie-goers when Clint Eastwood was young, it is a different story today. This is not to say audiences have turned their back on cowboy flicks, but the filmmakers have forgotten the fundamentals of making them. You can factor in the cliches like the six-gun, chewing tobacco and a lazy sheriff, but no proper storyline. For instance, in the past we’ve had dismal attempts at Westerns such as Wild Wild West, the film Will Smith reportedly went after instead of playing Neo in The Matrix. Look how that turned out for him.

The current James Bond, Daniel Craig, once starred in Cowboys and Aliens, which, as the title suggests, was a load of bull. In fact, the only recent Western worth talking about is Rango, which has voiceover work by Johnny Depp. While it’s a kids’ animated film with a chameleon as the protagonist, it’s amusing enough to want to own the DVD.

Sadly, that’s not the case with A Million Ways to Die in the West. Let’s face it, aside from MacFarlane, the cast, including Charlize Theron, Amanda Seyfried, Neil Patrick Harris and Liam Neeson, is pretty impressive. Some of them are not quite cut out for comedy, but if Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson can master the genre, so can they.

The film is about a love triangle gone very wrong and you can almost tell this project is not going to go anywhere. And judging by the trailer and the few reviews that are available, there will be no Oscar mention for this one.

Better luck next time, Seth.

WIN! WIN! WIN!

Three very lucky readers can each win a A Million Ways to Die in the West hamper in our competition. Each hamper consists of a bottle of Givenchy L’eau en Rose, valued at R1045, a bottle opener and playing cards with A Million Ways to Die in the West title treatment, a Snow White and the Huntsman DVD, and a Ted DVD.

To stand a chance of winning, all you have to do is send your name, as well as your contact details, to Sharon_Naidoo@uip.com. Entries should be titled A Million Ways Competition. The competition closes on Wednesday, June 4, at midnight. Only the winners will be contacted.


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