A Million Ways to Die in the West


Welcome back to This Week In Discs! If you see something you like, click on the title to buy it from Amazon. Rick and Morty: Season 1 Rick is a scientist of great renown, probably, who lives with his daughter’s family in suburbia and spends his days tinkering and having adventures. His “partner” is his frequently unwilling grandson, Morty. Together they travel through space and time interacting with aliens, mutants and everyday people. And by interacting I mean causing trouble. The latest addition to Cartoon Network’s Adult Swim lineup comes from the twisted minds of Justin Roiland (who also voices both Rick and Morty) and Dan Harmon, and while it found its origin in riffing on Back to the Future it quickly develops a life of its own thanks to a steady stream of very funny gags and smart writing. There’s a hint of Futurama here, but it’s a darker and far more foul world much to our enjoyment. Don’t believe me? Just wait until you see the episode where the human-sized jelly bean tries to rape Morty in a bathroom stall. [Blu-ray/DVD extras: Behind the scenes, commentaries, deleted scenes]


Sherman's March

While it’s sold as a comedic Western, A Million Ways to Die in the West is not a very good Western at all. Oh, it may take place in the 19th century American frontier and feature pistol duels, saloon brawls and farming, but its story is completely 21st century romance. The movie is your standard “nice guy loses girl, tries to win her back and discovers a much better girl in the process” affair. The setting is nothing but window dressing. It isn’t even exploited for very many jokes, good or otherwise — and most of the jokes are bad. But there’s one upside to this misaimed move on the part of writer/director/star Seth MacFarlane. He’s put himself in similar thematic territory with an already existing film. And that film does relationships and humor much, much better. Sherman’s March is a supremely strange piece of work. Originally, director Ross McElwee set out to retrace the route General Tecumseh Sherman took on his March to the Sea during the Civil War. Sherman earned the eternal enmity of the American South by ruthlessly razing everything in his army’s path. But McElwee wreaks a very different kind of destruction, endless self-scrutiny. Early on in production, his girlfriend dumped him, and the documentary became something new. In the film, he interviews his family and friends, with a special emphasis on the women he has known and tried (and/or failed) to romance. This offbeat journey takes him and the people he meets through a wide variety of 1980s subject matter, from nuclear war to the career of Burt Reynolds. […]


Seth MacFarlane in A Million Ways to Die in the West

You might think that Seth MacFarlane would be the perfect guy to make the boldest Western comedy since Blazing Saddles. After 40 years there’s still no topping Mel Brooks there in terms of genre parody, historical satire, sharp political incorrectness as social statement or even the lowbrow humors of slapstick, raunch and gross-out gags. But MacFarlane, who tackles all those areas of comedy in his TV series and movies, doesn’t even come close to being Brooks’ successor with his sophomore directorial effort, A Million Ways to Die in the West. What starts out as a funny guide to the Wild West and, as the title suggests, how dangerous that time and place was, the movie nosedives with a foregrounded rom-com plot, an underdeveloped and unnecessary villain and a retread of jokes recycled from the first few minutes. For an example of that last fault, and this is by far the worst offender, Giovanni Ribisi plays a guy whose girlfriend, played by Sarah Silverman, is a prostitute. She won’t have sex with him, though, because they’re Christians and are waiting for marriage. That’s a fine joke as an introduction to their characters, not terribly original but still played well and to the extreme with Silverman’s trademark smuttiness. But that winds up being their actual narrative arc, their only true purpose in the movie, so the constant bits where she tells him about her day at work and the gags involving what body fluids of her customers are still in her hair for him to find during their […]



Welcome to week five of our 2014 Summer Box-Office Challenge! Think of it as a summer-long contest for movie-lovers — you’ll make predictions and guesses as to which summer movies will rule the box-office each week, we award points and at the end of the contest the three top point-earners will each win a Blu-ray/DVD prize pack! First place will win ten (10) Blu-ray/DVD titles released throughout the coming summer, second place wins five (5) and third place wins two (2). We’ll have bonus questions each week as well to help bolster your point totals and keep you in the running. The box office estimates from this past weekend are a bit too close to call just yet — the rankings below will be updated this afternoon once the actuals come in — but the top two films won’t surprise anyone. Bryan Singer’s X-Men: Days of Future Past took first place with just over $90 million while Godzilla fell to second meaning everyone who played last week earns two points for the bonus question. Our player top five has finally gotten a bit of a shake-up too. Here are the current standings for our contest (with the understanding that they may chance once actuals come in later today). [UPDATE: The actuals show X-Men earning $90.8 million so these results are unchanged.] Chris B – 14 points Husain – 13 pts AKFilmfan – 11 pts Starkweather – 11 pts Spencer Connell – 8 pts And now it’s on to week five! Check out the challenge questions below and play along in the comments […]



Can Seth MacFarlane carry a film to which he lends more than just his voice? Where his whole personage appears onscreen, rather than just his voice? We won’t find out for a few months, but this first trailer for his A Million Ways to Die in the West plays it very safe. Just in case MacFarlane’s charisma doesn’t extend beyond his voice, that damn talking bear still shows up for a few seconds. It’s just long enough to make a hand sex joke and then beat a hasty retreat. The millions upon millions of bros who saw Ted can rest easy. But unlike Ted, where MacFarlane more or less transplanted his Family Guy shtick into a bear-shaped package and called it a day, A Million Ways to Die calls upon the funnyman to venture outside his usual crass voice-acting turf. Here, he neither sounds nor acts like any of his staple cartoon character personas; instead, he’s Albert, a meek and unassuming sheep farmer in the old West. Albert shies away from a gunfight and loses his girlfriend  in the process. Yet when a new love (Charlize Theron) comes along, Albert sheds his cowardly exterior and begins learning the ways of the manly-man cowboy- that is, until her husband (Liam Neeson) rides into town, vowing revenge.


Seth MacFarlane

Even though Seth MacFarlane’s animated shows for Fox, Family Guy and American Dad, have been hugely successful, MacFarlane himself still gets a lot of guff from critics for his shows being too formulaic and his talent being overstated. He relies too much on pop culture references and absurdist asides, people say. All of his characters’ voices sound the same, people say. But, in the last year or so, we’ve really seen MacFarlane take the first few steps toward branching out and proving that he has more to offer the entertainment industry than his critics would suggest. The biggest step toward that goal was proving that he can write and direct a successful feature film with Ted. Despite a few dissenting voices complaining that MacFarlane’s voice for Ted’s CG teddy bear sounded too much like his voice for Peter Griffin, most everyone was in agreement that MacFarlane had directed one of the year’s best feature comedies, and the box office results more than backed its positive reviews up. Ted brought in about ten times the coin that it cost to make. Suddenly, MacFarlane finds himself in the elite club of being a money-making filmmaker, and a whole new world of possibilities has opened up for him. So what’s he going to do with his newfound clout? Not rest on his laurels, that’s for sure. Not only is he all set to host this year’s Academy Awards, which should boost his profile in the culture even higher, but now THR is reporting […]

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published: 01.30.2015
published: 01.30.2015
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