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To the relatively short list of motion pictures classified as ‘western spoofs,’ all of which are totally forgettable , save for Mel Brooks’ classic “Blazing Saddles,” comes a new entry: Seth Myers’ “A Million Ways to Die in the West.”There’s little need to worry about the plot, like, as in “Blazing Saddles,” it’s merely an artifice around which to exploit stereotypes and build toilet jokes and grotesque sight-gags.
Given the appearance of some very funny and talented people, including Myers himself, Sarah Silverman, Neil Patrick Harris, Giovanni Rabissi, and even Bill Maher for a minute in comedic roles, plus some A-list acting support from Charlize Theron and Liam Neeson for the more demanding roles, the movie never quite engages like Myers’ last successful and critically acclaimed “Ted.”
This isn’t to say there aren’t laughs. They abound, actually, especially in a glorious dream-sequence that begins after the Myers character mistakenly swallows a bowl of drugs intended for a whole tribe of Indians who had captured him. It’s just that picture would have been a lot funnier with some tighter editing and better scene execution, and a run time in the 100 minute range instead of nearly two hours.
And it would have also helped if not as many of the money shots from the various gags had been in trailers and TV ads for what seems like the better part of a year. These routines lose their punch, obviously, when you know how they’re going to end. If you’ve managed to avoid more of those promotional pieces than this reviewer, you might dig this movie a little more. The star-power brought to bear here doesn’t make “A Million Ways to Die in the West” the comic classic that some were expecting, but it does save it from dud-dom. You’ll enjoy its debut on Starz…..