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Movie Review

A Million Ways to Die in the West

MPAA Rating: R for strong crude and sexual content, language throughout, some violence and drug material.

Reviewed by: David Johnson

Extremely Offensive
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Moviemaking Quality:

Primary Audience:
Western Comedy
1 hr. 56 min.
Year of Release:
USA Release:
May 30, 2014 (wide—3,000+ theaters)
DVD: October 7, 2014
Copyright, Universal Pictures click photos to ENLARGE Copyright, Universal Pictures Copyright, Universal Pictures Copyright, Universal Pictures Copyright, Universal Pictures Copyright, Universal Pictures Copyright, Universal Pictures Copyright, Universal Pictures
Relevant Issues
Copyright, Universal Pictures

Who is writer/director/producer SETH MACFARLANE? —ardent atheist / mother died after long cancer battle / passionate promoter of Gay “rights” and Gay marriage / named the Harvard Humanist of the Year (2011) for “his active, passionate commitment to Humanist values” / executive producer of “Cosmos: A Spacetime Odyssey,” an update of the Carl Sagan–hosted “Cosmos” series / campaigned for Barack Obama for President / board member of the progressive liberal advocacy organization People for the American Way /active U.S. Democratic Party supporter

What are the likely consequences of continual vulgar sexual talk, lewdness and profanity?

What are the usual results of low thoughts and sinful actions compared to goodness and righteousness?


Featuring: Charlize TheronAnna
Amanda SeyfriedLouise
Liam NeesonClinch
Seth MacFarlane … Albert
Neil Patrick HarrisFoy
Sarah Silverman … Ruth
Giovanni RibisiEdward
Christopher LloydDr. Emmett Brown
more »
Director: Seth MacFarlane—“Ted” (2012), “Family Guy” TV series, “American Dad,” “The Cleveland Show”
Producer: Bluegrass Films
Fuzzy Door Productions
more »
Distributor: Universal Pictures

raunchy, purile, infantile

When previews for this film were first released, I suspected that this would be a typical Seth MacFarlene work, with a fair amount of violence, sex, and language; my suspicions and expectations were right, and a little bit exceeded, especially with the amount of violence in the film. Not to say that this is the worst film, as I thought it was rather funny, despite the offensive religious and sexual humor.

This western-styled comedy film stars Seth MacFarlene as Albert, a cowardly sheep farmer, who loses his girlfriend Louise (Amanda Seyfried) to wealthy moustachery shop owner Foy (Neil Patrick Harris); Albert sets out to win back Louise with the help of a drifter that comes to town named Anna (Charlize Theron), who is secretly on the run from her violent husband Clinch (Liam Neeson).

This is a rather funny film, with some bathroom humor (a guilty pleasure of mine), some funny (though graphic) death scenes, and a heartwarming story about Albert’s character development and growing friendship with Anna.

Albert and Anna’s relationship is not sexual (at least not entirely), though flirting is involved as Anna teaches Albert how to shoot a gun, and the two do end up kissing each other, without Albert knowing that Anna is married to Clinch.

***SPOILER*** There is a scene later in the film after Albert goes on a drug trip and sees a vision of him eventually marrying Anna, so it is implied that Albert does have good intentions for this girl. ***END SPOILER***

However, despite the rather positive plot with Albert and Anna, it does not make up for the inappropriate subject matter that runs rampant throughout the movie.

Language: The film is littered with much coarse language, so much so that it was hard to keep count. There are over 50 uses of “f**k,” “s**t” (35+), at least a dozen uses of “a**hole,” “hell,” and “b***h;” at least one or two dozen uses of God’s name offensively (“godd**n,” and God and Jesus’ names used in vain), and different offensive words for genitalia (“d**k,” “c**k,” “p***y).

Sexual content: There is also a lot of sexual content and reference. In one scene a character’s girlfriend kisses his face while he masturbates. There are a few scenes with characters making out (though it does not go further than that). An outlaw attempts to rape his wife, though is knocked out with his rear end exposed. A character’s girlfriend flashes her privates at him (it is not shown, though easily implied). There are also multiple sexual references, with some characters talking about f**king, and another lying about a sexual encounter to make his ex jealous. There are also some scenes which show sheep genitalia, with one sheep peeing on one of the characters, and another scene which shows five sheep dancing and peeing in a synchronized fashion at the end of the tune.

A subplot with Albert’s best friend Edward (Giovanni Ribisi) dates a prostitute named Ruth (Sarah Silverman). The two of them are “Christian” and have both agreed to save sex with each other until their marriage; the key term is “with each other.” Though the two of them are waiting for marriage to have sex with each other, Ruth continues to have sexual encounters with “at least 15 guys a day,” and according to Edward “10 on a slow day.” ***SPOILER*** Later on in the film, Edward and Ruth prepare to have sex, believing that Clinch is going to kill them, though they are stopped when Anna runs in on them hoping to seek sanctuary from Cinch. Later, near the end of the film, the two set out to f**k under a tree, though it is only said and not shown. ***END SPOILER*** This subplot was easily the most unsettling part of the film for me, as it is poking fun at the hypocrisy of these characters’ relationship and religious beliefs.

Violence: Another big fraction of the film’s subject matter comes from its use of violence. However, people walking into this film should have expected this, as the film is titled “A Million Ways to Die in the West.” If the film did show a million ways to die, the film would be much longer than two hours, but there are at least some ways shown and explained. Albert’s character at the beginning of the film famously quotes that everything that is not you wants to kill you, including outlaws, angry drunk people, scorned hookers, major and minor injuries, Indians, the weather, going to the bathroom, going to the town’s doctor (who has very abnormal ways of treating injuries, including having birds peck at scrapes), and eating too much spicy food. There are scenes which show people getting shot, punched, badly beaten (one character gets graphically beaten to death in a jail cell), the town’s dead mayor is dragged away by wolves, people are stabbed by broken beer bottles, a salesman is hit by a charging bull, domestic abuse (a husband slapping his wife), and countless other scenes featuring death and major injuries. There is also a scene where a person’s head is crushed after a big block of ice lands on him.

There are also a few slapstick moments, with Albert’s character getting hit in the face by a falling skeet, him getting dragged by a horse, and failing numerous times to shoot beer bottles on a fence.

Drug and alcohol abuse: There is a lot of drug and alcohol abuse throughout, with many scenes taking place in a bar/brothel, with many people getting drunk before having sex or getting into a brawl. There is also a scene where two characters get “stoned” on pot cookies. Later, near the end of the film, a character camps with a local Indian tribe, and they give him a drug in order to find his inner self; he exceeds the amount he is supposed to take and is warned by the chief that he is “totally gonna freak out and probably die.” He then has a vision which takes him to different embarrassing points in his life, and then sees talking animals and different abnormal shapes and objects around him.

Although this film may have some humorous moments (depending on your viewpoint and level of maturity—even most secular critics did not find it funny), it is NOT a movie for followers of Christ. MacFarlene is notorious for pushing the envelope in every sense of the term—based on sex, language, violence, drugs, and religion. His contempt for Christians is emphasized greatly.

Violence: Extreme / Profanity: Extreme / Sex: Heavy to extreme

Who is writer/director Seth MacFarlane? —an atheist / active supporter of Gay “rights” and Gay “marriage” / named the Harvard Humanist of the Year (2011) for “his active, passionate commitment to Humanist values” / supporter of very liberal politicians and causes / campaigned for Barack Obama for President

What is Secular Humanism? Answer

VOTING FOR MOVIES—Every time you buy a movie ticket or rent a video you are casting a vote telling Hollywood “That’s what I want.” Are YOU part of the problem? Answer

See list of Relevant Issues—questions-and-answers.

Viewer CommentsSend your comments
Comments below:
Negative—Seth MacFarlane apparently has major issues with Christianity since the point of the movie from a few minutes in was to mock and degrade those with Christian values and even God, Himself. I don’t understand why so many actors, directors, producers think a movie is improved by saying the F-word nonstop. I don’t know anyone over the age of 19 who speaks that way. Even then, every sentence?? Other than being offended by the obvious and intentional religious denigration, the movie was really kind of boring and predictable.

Side note: What a waste of Liam Neeson. And poor Charlize Theron having to open mouth kiss these guys—can they open their mouths any wider? Yuck. And one more thing, what is MacFarlane’s fascination with the penises of both men and sheep…

Overall, another chance taken on an R comedy and again, sadly disappointed that R means “I can’t think of anything funny so I will have everyone say F*** nonstop, poop, fart, and show their penises.”
My Ratings: Moral rating: Extremely Offensive / Moviemaking quality: 3
—Karen W, age 49 (USA)
Negative—This movie was so raunchy I do not know where to begin. It was filled with foul language, sexual jokes, bodily sounds, and many degrading comments about Christianity. I usually look up the ratings on a movie prior to going but was invited by my sister’s boyfriend.

Do NOT waste your time or money on this extremely offensive movie… there was nothing funny about it. I am grieved that anyone in our society would find this type of movie entertaining.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Extremely Offensive / Moviemaking quality: 3
—Deborah T., age 51 (USA)
Negative—Beautiful cinematography from a BluRay viewing. The movie was pretty blah and predictable, with much elementary sexual potty humor that carried the show. Much Christian bashing. Weak story line. Vulgar.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Extremely Offensive / Moviemaking quality: 4
—Nancy, age 54 (USA)
Movie Critics

…Jokes are first to die in MacFarlane’s “West”… Racism, misogyny. A laff riot, right?… It’s beyond bad taste. It’s just bad. [1/4]
—Steven Rea, Philadelphia Inquirer

…a compendium of crude humour, penis references, non-sequiturs and flatulence…
—Jay Stone, National Post (Canada)

…overlong, uninspired… a flaccid all-star farce that’s handsomely dressed up with nowhere to go for most of its padded two-hour running time…
—Scott Foundas, Variety

…Stocking the supporting cast with top-drawer talent, he [Seth MacFarlane] gives most of his costars little to do besides attract our attention on movie posters…
—John DeFore, The Hollywood Reporter

…Sarah Silverman plays a Christian hooker who refuses to have sex with fiancé Giovanni Ribisi—a one-joke role… [2/5]
—Simon Crook, Empire [UK]

…A failure on nearly every level… As we so often ask ourselves with awful comedies, did they really think this was funny?… [1]
—Brian Tallerico,

…“A Million Ways to Die in the West” seems serious about only one thing: its contempt for the gun-crazed macho ethos exalted in countless Hollywood westerns. …
—Stephen Holden, The New York Times

…Deadly jokes certainly dog this latest bit of ridiculous raunch… Of the million ways to die in the West, it turns out a comedy misfire is the deadliest of all. …
—Betsy Sharkey, Los Angeles Times

…Seth MacFarlane shoots wide of the mark… Unfortunately, jumbling frat-house humor with nostalgic period sets and costumes is like writing a punchline to a Frederic Remington painting. Only less hilarious. …
—Graham Killeen, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

…The things that stay with you are the dull, boilerplate love story, the laziest performance of Liam Neeson’s career as a murderous gunslinger and the distracting amount of makeup Seth MacFarlane sports in the film. His face looks like it has been Photoshopped and smoothed over, as if he were posing for a GQ cover… [1/4]
—Rene Rodriguez, The Miami Herald

…“Family Guy” creator Seth MacFarlane’s new comedy western fires nothing but blanks… It’s FLATLY atrocious—just so much unamusing tumbleweed. … [1/5]
—Tim Robey, The Telegraph

… the pic ends up as nothing more than a steady stream of puerile fart and defecation gags, sheep penis close-ups, not-exactly-true-to-the-period cussing, wince-worthy racial slurs and salacious sexual guffaws. …
—Bob Hoose, Plugged In

…there’s just one path to his infantile humour. It starts from a clever brain that ceased emotional development at age 12 and winds its way through to the orifice that emits the rudest noises and effluence. … [2/4]
—Peter Howell, Toronto Star Newspapers

Comments from non-viewers
Negative—Seth MacFarlane is a godless man who I will not spend my money on seeing; his humor is inappropriate and repetitive. MacFarlane has talked various times about his Christophobia and hatred of anything to do with God; and this is a man whom God saved from dying in 9/11, only for him to spit in our Holy Lord’s face. “A Million Ways to Die In the West” = A million reasons to not spend money on Seth MacFarlane.
—Peter, age 24 (USA)
Negative—The preview says a lot, and I did not bother watching this. I will start to pray for Seth that he would use his talent to contribute in uplifting our youth instead of degrading women. I also pray that the movie stars would not participate in dumbing down our youth. As it is, life is so complicated for teens. You can be “funny” by encouraging people to be their best selves and not to encourage them to constantly barrage others with insults. Create something that your future children will be proud of you for.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Extremely Offensive / Moviemaking quality:
—Anne, age 34 (USA)

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