Reviews provided by RottenTomatoes
The movie, which MacFarlane directed and cowrote with Alec Sulkin and Wellesley Wild, is clever about its anachronisms. You stay surprised.
New York Post:
MacFarlane is just passable as a leading man, but as a director and co-writer with two others he has a wider comic imagination than "Blazing Saddles." For every so-so gag there are three genius ones.
Wall Street Journal:
Some of it sputters, settling for smiles instead of laughs, and much of it flounders while the slapdash script searches, at exhausting length, for ever more common denominators in toilet humor.
What's to hate? Let me count the ways. The laziness of the writing. The numbing overreliance on poop and pee jokes. The long, arid stretches between anything resembling a joke.
A sagebrush comedy whose visual grandeur and appealing actors get polluted by some astonishingly lazy writing.
A flaccid all-star farce that's handsomely dressed up with nowhere to go for most of its padded two-hour running time.
Like much of MacFarlane's work, A Million Ways suffers from an inability to maintain consistent characters or to make plot funny.
Seth MacFarlane takes a genuinely interesting premise, about how the Old West was a cesspool of disease and despair, and buries it (and his talented cast) under a pile of unfunny gross-out jokes.
There's nothing about this plotline that doesn't feel like a retread, and MacFarlane, I'm sorry to report, still seems like the funniest guy in the writers' room rather than a genuine movie star.
J. R. Jones,
Despite all the costumes, stunt work, and locations in Monument Valley, this big-budget western spoof by Seth MacFarlane is too glib to live up to its potential.
What we have here is a failure of craft. [MacFarlane] can't direct action, or even handle scenery well.
Christian Science Monitor:
If you measure a comedy by how many times you laughed, Seth MacFarlane's A Million Ways to Die in the West, at least for me, is a middling success.
Dallas Morning News:
The down-for-anything cast, along with a handful of welcome cameos, can't prop up its weakest link: Seth MacFarlane.
Fort Worth Star-Telegram/DFW.com:
If there were a shootout in the Hollywood comedic corral between...Blazing Saddles, and the new kid in town, A Million Ways to Die in the West, it's not even a contest. Brooks' classic would chase the upstart out of town with a backside full of lead.
MacFarlane, who wrote the script with Alec Sulkin and Wellesley Wild, keeps the gags flying like hot lead out of a Colt .45. And for every three that don't land, one or two hit the bullseye.
Though the film is hardly laugh-free, its uneven jokes appear to have breezed through a very forgiving editing process.
Los Angeles Times:
MacFarlane is a very funny dude, and there are times "A Million Ways to Die" is indeed funny. But too often the movie feels half-baked.
The most unromantic take on the Wild West since John Wayne in The Searchers vowed to kill his niece.
San Jose Mercury News:
If MacFarlane was hoping to make a new generation's "Blazing Saddles," he failed amid an avalanche of dumb.
There are enough laughs scattered throughout A Million Ways to Die in the West that while you're watching it, the movie seems like a passable comedy. By the time you get home, though, you can barely remember the jokes.
It's another example of MacFarlane's ability to mix poop jokes with romance, foul language with sweet sentiment, offensive humor with boyish charm.
The one person who gets the balance right, weighing parody and homage, is the composer, Joel McNeely, whose opening theme stirs hopes and memories that the movie cannot match.
It's well-made, often (and outrageously) funny, and manages to keep up the pace and interest for nearly two hours. Clearly there's more to MacFarlane than a bad Oscar show, "Ted" and some Fox-TV toons.
The problem isn't that the jokes are crass; they're just not that funny.
New York Daily News:
MacFarlane has corralled a great cast, which makes it especially disappointing that the movie's merely OK.
New York Times:
Demolishes the heroic mystique of the Old West with the nose-thumbing glee of a rambunctious brat who has just crawled out of a fetid mud puddle.
Orange County Register:
In A Million Ways to Die in the West, director-star Seth MacFarlane builds an imposing, affectionate reconstruction of the American movie West, then defaces it with funny mustaches -- often literally.
A Million Ways to Die in the West feels like about 80 minutes of material was padded out to 110 minutes.
One long joke about much it would have sucked to live (and die, at a relatively young age), in the Old West.
But for all its hit-and-miss jokes, there are lots of ways to die laughing at this Western raunchfest.
While the whole thing feels weirdly miscalculated to me, "A Million Ways to Die in the West" tweaks the formula just enough, delivers a few laughs and keeps the guest stars coming.
San Francisco Chronicle:
MacFarlane is after something beyond absurdity. He gets to the crux of the matter, that life in the West was cheap, at least as portrayed in the movies, and he tells us, often hilariously, that this is nothing we should celebrate.
Minneapolis Star Tribune:
Much of the film rests on MacFarlane's shoulders, and he has toned down the snide, obnoxious demeanor that spoiled his turn as the 2013 Oscars host.
St. Louis Post-Dispatch:
'Round these parts, when a movie promises a million laughs but only delivers a dozen chuckles, that's a hanging offense.
Globe and Mail:
Yes, there are a million ways to die in the west. Boredom shouldn't be one of them.
Your mileage may vary depending on your enthusiasm for his smirking frat-boy comedy.
If you grade a comedy by how frequently you chuckle, then A Million Ways to Die in the West is funny enough; too often, unfortunately, MacFarlane and his co-writers go for bits where the shock value is supposed to equal actual humor.
MacFarlane's irreverent humor feels subdued without the jolt of animation that gave his previous big-screen effort, Ted, an extra oomph of shock and awe.
Plot details can be scattershot, but it succeeds thanks to an outrageously comical deconstruction of Hollywood Westerns and an appealing cast of characters.
New York Magazine/Vulture:
Some of the gags do land - maybe one in four. But the genre-parody genre with big stars and poop jokes needs a little more class than MacFarlane is capable of providing.
The real problem with "A Million Ways to Die in the West" is one of editing. There are a million jokes in it, but only 500,000 of them are funny.