mines comedy of death on the frontier in 'A Million Ways'
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[May 30, 2014] By
LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - A town fair,
a block of ice, and even the doctor are just some of the "Million
Ways" to meet one's demise in the American Old West, as "Family Guy"
creator Seth MacFarlane lends his raunchy humor to parody the harsh
conditions of life on the frontier.
"A Million Ways to Die in the West," out in U.S. theaters on
Friday, is written and directed by MacFarlane, who also plays
Albert, a hapless sheep farmer who is dumped by his girlfriend,
befriends a mysterious newcomer and is challenged to gun fights.
Set in Arizona, 1882, the film is both a homage to and spoof of
the traditional Western cowboy films. It features alcohol,
drugs, raucous violence, a toe-tapping musical number and the
same cheeky irreverence and bawdy comedy with touches of social
commentary that MacFarlane has become known for in "Family Guy"
and his first film, 2012's R-rated comedy "Ted."
"I wondered if there was some sort of hybrid between the tone
that this movie sets and something that actually breathes as a
western novella of sorts, and it was an experiment," MacFarlane
told reporters at a press conference for the film.
Until recently, MacFarlane had focused his career behind the
camera, writing, producing and voicing a large portion of the
main characters in his Fox shows "Family Guy" and "American
Dad." But after hosting the Oscars in 2013, the actor has become
a more recognizable face.
"A Million Ways" sees MacFarlane playing his first live
character role in film after voicing the pot-smoking,
foul-mouthed lovable bear in "Ted."
He was aided, he said, by leading lady Charlize Theron, who
exercises her comedy chops as Anna, the beautiful gun-slinging
newcomer who takes Albert under her wings.
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"The idea of doing something that's pitched in this very
unusual way of a comedy western situation and (Seth) at the helm
was very intriguing," the Oscar-winning actress said.
"A Million Ways" embeds cameos and throwaway pop culture
references that will especially appeal to fans of MacFarlane, such
as an appearance from "Back to the Future" character Doc Brown with
his time-traveling DeLorean car.
"We thought we want to keep this more or less the real world, with
some exaggerations of Arizona in 1882 so we're not going to fill it
with pop culture references," MacFarlane said.
"But then while we were filming, we thought we could explain this
away because it's a time machine and it was just something that
turned out to be such a crowd pleaser."
Pleasing the critics might be a little harder, as reviews have been
mixed, with the film earning a score of 50 out of 100 on review
aggregator Metacritic.com. Variety's chief film critic Scott Foundas
called it a "flaccid all-star farce."
The film, produced by Comcast Corp-owned Universal Pictures, is
projected to earn $25 million in its opening weekend at the domestic
(Reporting by Piya Sinha-Roy; editing by Patricia Reaney and Sofina
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