Sunday, April 27, 2014

Seth McFarlane's A Million Ways To Die In the West, by Seth McFarlane

(hb; 2014)

From the inside flap:

"Mild-mannered sheep farmer Albert Stark is fed up with the harsh life of the American frontier, where it seems everything and anything can kill you: Duels at high noon.  Barroom brawls.  Poisonous snakes.  Cholera-infected drinking water.  Tumbleweed abrasion.  Something called 'toe-foot.'  Even a trip to the outhouse.  Yes, there is a million ways to die in the wild, wild West, and Albert plans to avoid them all.  Some people think that makes him a coward.  Albert calls it common sense.  But when his girlfriend dumps him for the most insufferable guy in town, Albert decides to fight back - even though he can't shoot, ride or throw a punch.  Fortunately, he teams up with a beautiful gunslinger who's tough enough for both of them.  Unfortunately, she's married to the biggest, meanest, most jealous badass on the frontier.  Turns out Albert has just discovered a million and one ways to die in the West."


Often hilarious and clever, Million is a historically incorrect work that reads like a standup comedian's Old West riff (with its modernized slang) crossed, appropriately, with the rapid-fire writing of McFarlane's animated television show Family Guy.  In short, read this as a silly, burn-through bit of Western fluff, nothing more.

Two nits about the book - one: near the end, one of the lead characters sports a badly foreshadowed, "twist" ability; two:  the plot wrap-up is flat and unfunny.

This is worth checking out, perhaps owning, if you're a fan of McFarlane's animated shows.  If you're not a McFarlane fan, read something else so the rest of us don't have to listen to you complain about how juvenile and dialogue-modern Million is.


The film version is scheduled for a May 30, 2014 stateside release.  Seth MacFarlane, who played Albert Stark, also directed and co-scripted the film.  Alec Sulkin (who plays a "Guy at Fair") and Wellslesley Wild also co-scripted the film.

Amanda Seyfried played Louise.  Neil Patrick Harris played Foy.  Charlize Theron played Anna.  Liam Neeson played Clinch.  An uncredited Ryan Reynolds played "Man Killed By Clinch in Bar".

Giovanni Ribisi played Edward.  Sarah Silverman played Ruth.  Christopher Lloyd played Doc Brown.

Christopher Hagen played George Stark.  Wes Studi played Cochise.  Alex Borstein played Millie.  Gilbert Gottfried played Abraham Lincoln. 

An uncredited Ewan McGregor played a "Cowboy at Fair".  An uncredited Jaime Foxx played a "Gunman at Fair in Final Scene".  An uncredited Patrick Stewart provided the "Dream Voice".

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