Wait for TED 2.
When Seth MacFarlane hosted the 2013 Academy Awards I wondered – how much did he buy that gig for? Is the MacFarlane brand big enough to host and sing-and-dance on the global behemoth that has an audience of potentially two billion?
How many actually knew MacF was the millionaire creator of the TV show Family Guy?
Sure, MacFarlane’s first directorial feat – TED – was a huge hit and the highest-grossing original R-rated comedy of all time. But MacF was the voice of Ted. I know all of Hollywood is pushing an Academy Award for “voice acting” but – we will not be hoodwinked – it’s not that soul-retching to go into a studio and record dialogue.
MacF wants to be a movie star, damn it!
So his talents as host did not deliver the lucrative Marvel superhero role or a dramatic role in a Tarantino film. He has a lot of actor buddies but Mark Wahlberg still did not put him in LONE SURVIVOR or his TV reality show, The Wahlburgers. To rectify this offensive slight, MacF decided to produce, write (with Alec Sulkin and Wellesley Wild), direct and star in A MILLION WAYS TO DIE IN THE WEST.
I will be very surprised if MacF is only the voice of Ted in TED 2.
MacF knows that he cannot play the lone badass gunslinger so he has to be the bumbling sheepherder. But MacF is too pleased with himself to pull off the lonely guy who is a coward and a loser. He wants to be a handsome leading man. He wants to end up with the girl.
Did he insist on a nude love scene with Theron – just for his uncut, director’s version to show at his parties?
It reminds me of the widely rumored – perhaps apocryphal – tale that Jack Nicholson kept a personal, uncut video of the sex scene with Jessica Lang in THE POSTMAN ALWAYS RINGS TWICE to show friends.
If only MacF could have written “If You’ve Only Got a Mustache”, the best thing in A MILLION WAYS.
Except for that scene I will not spoil it to mention.
Its 1880 and Albert Stark (MacFarlane) hates living in the dust-and-spit town of Old Stump. He is clearly suicidal. He has a girlfriend, Louise (Amanda Seyfried), but she dumps him for mustache king Foy (Neil Patrick Harris).
Albert even has horrible parents.
Albert has a best friend Edward (Giovanni Ribisi), a virgin and a shoemaker. His beloved Ruth (Silverman) is the very in-demand town whore. They are waiting until they are married to have sex.
The infamous gunslinger, Clinch Leatherwood (Liam Neeson), his wife Anna (Theron) and his gang are headed for Old Stump. Clinch sends Anna ahead while he robs a train. Anna falls immediately for sad-sack Albert – for no good reason except he is not Clinch.
When Albert kisses Anna at the town’s dance and Clinch hears about it, he comes looking for him.
MacF gives Harris a terrific song-and-dance number but – as punishment – gives good sport Harris a revolting poop scene.
Actresses, unless you are the goddess Charlize Theron (and MacF wants the tabloids to think he is dating you), MacF is not a female’s director. He crucifies Sarah Silverman and Seyfried got a paycheck. While Ribisi was in TED and the cancelled, widely reviled MacF Fox show Dads, the writers make Edward so unappealing, MacF may as well be Channing Tatum.
MacF also has to tame the broad appeal of Neeson as the big, bad gunslinger. There is only one way to do this. Make Clinch a brute who kills an old man for nothing. Not vile enough? Have Clinch slap Anna. As all this is going on – and I am sure the veteran actors know the score – Theron breezes through A MILLION WAYS showing an easy charm. Neeson does his two days and probably only read his part in the screenplay.
Who talked MacF out of calling the movie A MILLION WAYS TO FART IN THE WEST? What prospective numbers did they show MacF to convince him ‘fart” did not test well?
Film Critic for FilmsInReview.com, LasVegasInformer.com, and FilmFestivalToday.com
Member of Broadcast Film Critics Association: www.bfca.org/
Member of Las Vegas Film Critics Society: www.lvfcs.org/.
Victoria Alexander lives in Las Vegas, Nevada and answers every email at firstname.lastname@example.org.