director: Seth MacFarlane
writers: Seth MacFarlane, Alec Sulkin and Wellesley Wild
starring: Seth MacFarlane, Charlize Theron, Liam Neeson, Amanda Seyfried and Giovanni Ribisi
released: May 29, 2014 (Australia & Germany), May 30, 2014 (U.S.), June 12, 2014 (Greece)
Because of the Teddy bear gimmick in the film "Ted", most found it to be a funny and a slightly even provoking film. However, once you leave the gimmick aside, was there really anything else special about it? Naturally, people expected Seth MacFarlane's next film to be that type of film and to have the same level of success. Which couldn't have been farther away from the truth. As his new film is a great example of a movie trailer carrying its best jokes, of a script constantly relying on the same repetitive "the West is dangerous" theme and a production that could have attempted to make real insights into the unknown factors of life in the West. Instead, of being a parody of how a satire should be done.
Life in the Wild West is dangerous, as you can die at any moment. This fact is evident to sheep farmer Albert (Seth MacFarlane) and the way he lives his life. Once his girlfriend Louise (Amanda Seyfried) leaves him for being somewhat of a coward, he decides to call it quits and leave the old West for good.
Though, when a young and mysterious lady Anna (Charlize Theron) enters town. She will show him how to be more of the man he should be and enjoy the simpler things in life and of a romantic relationship. The problem is that the secrets this mystery lady will carry with her, might lead to his experience in the West becoming even more dangerous than ever before.
Starting off I've never been a huge fan of Seth MacFarlane. I'll admit he is an intelligent man, that is well spoken and with great argumentation on various issues non Television & Film oriented. It's just that his manner of humor sometimes is too on the nose, pop cultured focused and abstract for its own good. Additionally its repetitive and without a strong emotional connection to its characters.
His first film "Ted" had its moments and at least didn't spoil all of its jokes in the trailer. Especially the "Flash Gordon" sequence and a couple of other moments. On the other hand MacFarlane has written himself into a dead end of repetition, early revealment and emotional & narrative disconnection in his second film. With an unreal amount of characters that seem of another era and not of the West. It's simply not enough that the characters constantly mention the fact of the "West being dangerous" or for them to have weird hobbies and characteristics for it to be considered character building. Also the only touch of character building within the film, is with McFarlane's character Emmett and his connection to his terrible parents. This though is never explored further and to be honest. The film never honestly attempts at any other kind of characterization.
Which leads us to the film's number one issue. Its reliance on hitting that one joke for all its worth. Although their are other jokes in the film such as the dollar joke that do standout and a few others that were sadly revealed in the trailer. Nonetheless, the joke of West being violent, dangerous and inappropriate for people to live in gets old soon. Primarily because we laughed at the joke big with the trailer and then were reliving that same old joke another 10 times on. And I'm not talking about things getting surprising and with twists on that very joke. Nope, its just the characters making their business to inform us that the west is those very things. It wasn't enough being told once and understanding that through the films plot and gags that West is dangerous. It is freaking repeated like a broken record, with its characters being too knowledgeable of facts that are impossible to know or even register about the West being dangerous.
Its fairly possible Macfarlane wanted to make the "Blazing Saddles" of the 21st century. However, he still needs a lot of practice and attention to detail to hit that mark. Where that film succeeded on a number of levels. MacFarlane's Western is a disappointment for having been entirely about that one joke. It should have beyond concept a character film. As we never felt empathy for its characters and their cartoonish dialogue and actions. As well as the jokes being fairly off number for the time and era. Furthermore, anarchistic like humor is acceptable, with great examples being the Monty Python group and Mel Brooks, but they had talent and comedic skill at least to go forward with it.
Its a cliche as of late to say that every film is ruined by its trailer, but it's become a fact of life. For fear that audiences won't be interested enough. Studios squeeze every last tid bit they can into the trailer, not caring if they ruin the experience afterwards. Yet, that isn't the only problem with this film. As its riddled with unusual cameos, one note jokes and aside from its "West is dangerous" bit, there isn't anything else for the film to ride on. Which means people don't expect much more anymore from the guy who created "Family Guy". Learn your lesson.