Monday, 23 June 2014

L.J. SPENCE'S STARTING POINTS: A MILLION WAYS TO DIE IN THE WEST

L.J. SPENCE'S STARTING POINTS

28. A MILLION WAYS TO DIE IN THE WEST (2014, dir. Seth MacFarlane)

23/06/2014


Seth MacFarlane has everything he needs to become the next Bruce Forsyth. It is an odd statement to make, but when you consider he is a comedic actor, both in live-action and in voice acting for animation, and a singer to the extent he has released an album, and sung from the Great American Songbook in two BBC Proms concerts, the first of which as a last-minute replacement for Kevin Spacey, he could be truly great, if he put his mind to it.

Seth MacFarlane is also the creator and producer of two prime-time US animated TV shows, "Family Guy" and "American Dad!" (it was three, up until the recent cancellation of "The Cleveland Show"), and producer of an astronomy series, "Cosmos: A Spacetime Odyssey," a Brian Cox-like journey through the universe, for which MacFarlane was largely responsible for securing the funding. He could be one of the greats of US television, if he put his mind to it.

In "A Million Ways to Die in the West", Seth MacFarlane is the lead actor, the co-writer, director, producer, co-writer of the lyrics of two songs featured in the film and, for his first time, writer of the "book of the film" novelisation.

Charlie Chaplin was given an honorary Academy Award for almost single-handedly making "The Circus" (1928), but because MacFarlane's effort feels too close to the bawdy, sometimes-too-easy formula of "Family Guy" and the like, that may not happen here. However, it could have been better if MacFarlane either got someone else to play the lead, or got someone else to direct, so he could concentrate on the other task, both of which are the most demanding in this film, as well as any other. 

Perhaps, Seth MacFarlane is too big a brand for this to happen, but just hope that he remains, at the very least, better than Adam Sandler. It was also reported that he wrote the novelisation of his film in the weekends during principal photography, because he was bored - not the words of someone who supposedly has no time to waste...

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