Far from the best in West

Sunday Tasmanian - Tassie Living - - MOVIES -

A MIL­LION WAYS TO DIE IN THE WEST ( MA15+) Di­rec­tor: Seth Mac­Far­lane ( Ted) Star­ring: Seth Mac­Far­lane, Charlize Theron, Liam Nee­son, Amanda Seyfried, Gio­vanni Ribisi.

AF­TER cre­at­ing a monster hit from be­hind the scenes with 2012’ s Ted, one- man com­edy ma­chine Seth Mac­Far­lane steps in front of the cam­era for his fea­ture act­ing de­but.

It comes as no real sur­prise the pro­lific cre­ator of TV’s Fam­ily Guy ( and one- off Os­cars host) doesn’t have the per­form­ing smarts to an­chor a near two- hour movie.

Nev­er­the­less, there are just enough clever laughs to be found in this tale of a whiny, self- ob­sessed sheep farmer in the wild west to earn it a pass mark.

If you can ven­ture be­yond Mac­Far­lane’s un­gainly screen pres­ence – al­ter­nately nervy, needy and naughty – you will find enough gen­uinely funny ma­te­rial to save the whole she­bang from be­com­ing a vac­u­ous van­ity project.

Ex­hibit A for the de­fence of A Mil­lion Ways to Die in the West: the spec­tac­u­larly sur­real sight of a sun­flower grow­ing from a place where the sun doesn’t shine on Liam Nee­son.

There’s plenty more of that kind of proudly low­brow, highly amus­ing stuff.

And don’t look up the cast list on IMDb, what­ever you do. There are killer, blink- or- miss celeb cameos right through­out the pic­ture.

In­vari­ably, the best jokes come along just when you think you’ve had enough Mac­Far­lane to last a life­time.

Mac­Far­lane plays Al­bert Stark, an 1880 mal­con­tent with a 2014 turn- of- phrase who hates ev­ery­thing fron­tier life stands for.

Al­bert’s mis­ery is usu­ally ex­pressed by a run­ning se­ries of ex­tended mono­logues that sound like ex­pired stand- up rou­tines.

The film could have done with less of this pedes­trian pat­ter – which Mac­Far­lane need­lessly pep­pers with ex­ple­tives – and more of the comic’s win­ning ways with sight gags.

There are stand­outs aplenty on that front. But if I had to stump up an Ex­hibit B, I’d go with the scene where a crowd of old- timey yokels see a $ 1 bill for the first time in the their lives.

Any other ma­jor pluses of note? Well, Charlize Theron could have coasted through the job of Mac­Far­lane’s love in­ter­est, but she does not.

Nee­son is the bad dude of the piece, and wears a black hat with the right dash of men­ace. Sarah Sil­ver­man plays a sex worker with strict Chris­tian val­ues and Gio­vanni Ribisi is her un­ques­tion­ing vir­gin boyfriend.

Any ma­jor mi­nuses aside from the star of the show?

Well, there are some of­fen­sive japes at the ex­pense of eth­nic mi­nori­ties that should never have made the fi­nal cut.

Now show­ing Vil­lage Cin­e­mas

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