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So, I don't know about you, but I watch a lot of movies. A ridiculous amount I've been told. Comedies, Dramas, Action, Mystery, Thriller, Crime, Cop, Sci-fi, Fantasy, Animated, Horror, Classics. I watch them all. Often in nice air conditioned theatres, with large comfy chairs. So I figured I might as well jot down some of my thoughts on this previous weeks outing, and if I can convince someone to watch a movie, or avoid one as the case may be, then that's even better.

A Million Ways to Die in the West

Now, I love Mel Brookís Blazing Saddles. Hell, I love all Mel Brooks stuff. So, when I see a new movie that looks like its trying to recapture that feeling, Iím all for it. Sure thereís a chance that it will end up being terrible, but the chance for something as inspired as those old movies is too big a temptation to avoid. And Million Ways comes damn close. On its own it could be a stand alone western if it wanted to. All be it one with a humorous bent, but unlike the manic finale of Blazing Saddles, Seth MacFarlene managed to stay almost entirely within his setting for this movie. That is essentially the crux of the movie however. It works too well inside the universe to be a parody, the characters, while self aware, are also entrenched in the periods morals. However it takes quite a few cues from the modern era, like using present day language and ideas that a standard western lacks (for example the shear amount of Fucks present in the dialogue). It goes too far to be a comedy set in the west, yet not far enough to be a satire on the genre.

The movie manages to hit plenty of good notes during it runtime. The soundtrack keeps the tone of the movie throughout, from the song describing all the ways the flora and fauna will kill you, to the Neil Patrick Harris motivated song about moustaches. The cinematography contains all the traditional vistas associated with westerns with mesas and hoodoos abound. Even the opening credits are reminiscent of a classic western using an old font in warm colours.

The story is a traditional narrative of a outcast nerd who disposes his life, who over the course of the movie learns to stand up for himself, and it works. MacFarlene is easily identifiable as a coward in a land where the rough and tumble prosper. And the movie continues on to validate his fears, as even after his long introductory rant on all the harms of frontier life, the movie continues to add to that running tally as it progresses.

The one aspect of the story which seemed out of place was the eventual love story between the the two leads, which in the beginning seems to mesh well with MacFaleneís development, but eventually the character development is pushed aside in favour of a greater focus upon the romance and discards much of the progress that both characters have made already in the story. And what does this extra forty minutes give us but a few chase/search scenes and the obligatory appearance by the local Native American tribe.

In the end, the movie seems like it canít decide what it wants to be, either Mel Brookís Blazing Saddles, or Mel Gibsonís Maverick. That indecision is the downfall of the movie, as it could have easily gone either way and been an exceptional entry in the genre, by trying to do both it accomplishes neither.

All said and done, it was an enjoyable movie with a lot of laughs, yet it still falls short on being a great entry into the library of western films. I didnít regret seeing it, or even paying full admission for it, yet I doubt Iíll ever spend any more money to see it, although if I ever see it on TV Iíll check it out, even if itís only to see how much of it they censor out.