“A Million Ways To Die In The West”

Seth MacFarlane’s less hilarious though much raunchier “Blazing Saddles” for the millenials.

When you produce, direct, co-write and star in a movie, well, it becomes all about you. And that’s the major flaw in Seth MacFarlane’s adventurous take on the wild West. He’s surrounded by a solid cast but he underuses them all, hogging almost every scene and every joke. Didn’t his parents ever tell Seth to share??!!!

Not as strong as “Ted” but much improved from his Oscar hosting, MacFarlane throws a gazillion jokes and bits to the wall and I have to say , about 40-50% of them stick. He’s at his best when in farce-mode and his worst with the shocksters. Sheep penis jokes?? Limp. Semen on her head ?? Come on, the Farrelly brothers made a career on that with Cameron Diaz in “There’s Something About Mary” 16 years earlier.

MacFarlane plays a cowardly sheep farmer in Arizona who’s dumped by his girlfriend (Amanda Seyfried) when he backs out of a gunfight. She immediately takes up with the slickly mustached Foy (gamely played by an outstanding Neil Patrick Harris). MacFarlane’s Albert, meanwhile, befriends and ultimately falls in love with a mysterious blonde who moves to town (breezily played by the truck-driver-mouthed Charlize Theron). Unbeknownst to Albert, she’s married to the most notorious outlaw in the West (a severely underused Liam Neeson). Giovanni Ribisi and Sarah Silverman round out the stellar cast as a much in-love Christian couple saving themselves for marriage, though she’s one of the most popular prostitutes at the local saloon.

While some of the scenes are drawn out (thus, the close to 2 hour running time), many hysterical one liners fly by- so pay attention. Also hilarious: a few cameos, including Gilbert Gottfried , who so steals his scene, you’ll be begging for more. Using today’s modern language and slang makes it even funnier.

You gotta go with the raunch on this one. If that offends you at all, do yourself a favor and stay away. Otherwise, there are definitely enough laughs here to satisfy. A “Blazing Saddles” classic, it ain’t. But that’s a high bar to reach. Look at it this way. Most Westerns are almost as painful to watch as living the life in the Wild West ( which is the premise of this whole movie). MacFarlane has us feeling but laughing at their pain. It has sharp moments but this could have used sharper editing .

2-and-a-half stars


A whole new female-empowering take on “Sleeping Beauty” with Angelina Jolie relishing every second.

This ain’t your mom’s “Sleeping Beauty”. It’s a gorgeous , lush (though the 3-D as usual is a wasted money-grubbing add on) completely different version of the long treasured fair tale.

Sporting horns, huge wings , yellow eyes and impossibly sharp cheekbones, Angelina Jolie is enchanting as the queen of the fairies who finds her own human prince charming, only to be spurned and betrayed not for another woman but his quest for power and domination. She takes revenge by cursing his daughter, played as a young child by Angie and Brad’s youngest daughter, Vivienne.

From there, the story deviates from the one we’ve known all our lives. It’s not just about vengeance but good and love triumphing over evil, even the evil in ourselves. It also raises the question : does true love exist. The answer may surprise you.

Angelina Jolie is just superb . Every expression, every reaction hits the mark. She was born to play this role.

Elle Fanning is luminous as the winningly sweet Princess Aurora. Providing comic relief (other than Angelina’s asides) : Temple Juno; Imelda Stauntpon and Lesley Manville as the three fairies who raise and protect Aurora . British actor Sam Riley is also wonderful as a raven Maleficent saves in order to serve her.

Parents will enjoy this every bit as much as kids. It’s the latest and one of the strongest of the girl-empowers. Honestly, I don’t think it’s too scary for the kids . I just loved it.

4 stars