The humor of A Million Ways to Die in the West would be more suited to animation, where its persistently sarcastic and two-dimensional tone would be more at home. The film brandishes one lone joke of note, where lonely sheep farmer Albert Stark takes out a set of photos of himself and his ex-girlfriend to show his friends. In each one, taken at a different event such as the fair or a barn dance, the two of them stand in exactly the same position, with their heads pointed towards the camera, their arms rigidly at their sides, and austere expressions on their faces. This is funny, up until the point (seconds later to be exact) where the characters begin discussing how weird it would be to smile in a photo. “Imagine smiling in a photo”, “oh yeah, you’d look like a crazy person”. Thanks Seth, it’s good of you to make a point of an already obvious joke, just in case it had only been half-funny the first time.
And yet, even worse, is the way in which this one joke is then dragged through the Arizona dirt for the rest of the film’s duration. This kind of relentless circling and repetition may work in Family Guy, where awkwardness reigns supreme, but when used as a tool in live action, the effect is tiresome. Not sure of whether it wants to be an endless reel of postmodern gags, or an actual comedy-drama with genuine moments of tension and romance, A Million Ways to Die in the West slogs through its story with an inexorable amount strain, until the audience is left with a million examples of how not to tell a joke.
FINAL VERDICT: ★