“No doubt, there’s a market for films like A Million Ways to Die in the West and longtime MacFarlane fans (as well as raunch-comedy lovers) should find plenty to enjoy in the Western spoof. A quality cast and a storyline rife with tongue-in-cheek set pieces makes the movie an easy recommendation for viewers who will be satisfied by an undemanding string of Western-inspired antics – elevated by some enjoyable cameos and a few brief moments of biting satire. That said, for moviegoers that expect a bit more, A Million Ways to Die in the West will be short on laugh-out-loud comedy beats – while also failing to find the “heart” that made similar genre farces like Blazing Saddles timeless comedy classics.”
- 1 Blu-Ray Disc
- 1 DVD Disc
- 1 Ultraviolet Digital Copy
- Standard Blu-ray case with slip cover
- Aspect Ratio: 2.40:1
- Sound Options: English (Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo), English (Dolby Digital 5.1), English (DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1), French (Dolby Digital 5.1), French (DTS 5.1), Spanish (Dolby Digital 5.1), Spanish (DTS 5.1)
- Subtitles: Spanish, French
- Seth MacFarlane (Director/Co-Writer/Actor)
- Alec Sulkin (Co-Writer)
- Wellesley Wild (Co-Writer)
- Charlize Theron (Actor)
Bottom Line: One might assume that, given MacFarlane’s sense of humor, the commentary track for A Million Ways to Die in the West would be a laugh riot, but unfortunately those assumptions are dead wrong. It’s actually quite disappointing how awkward the conversations on the track are. It’s not as bad as it could be – there are still plenty of lively discussions in the film – but most of them feel forced. Charlize Theron in particular doesn’t seem all that pleased to be sitting in a room rewatching a movie that was extremely difficult to make.
Forget humor and forget witty repartee, this track is sorely missing in both categories. This could have been an opportunity for MacFarlane to explain how he balanced his multiple roles, but instead he spends most of the time simply pointing out who did what in the film. The only worthwhile portions are those rare moments when the crew talk about the inception of certain ideas or why specific scenes from the unrated version were cut, but those are few and far between. Commentary tracks are supposed to be insightful peeks behind the production curtain, but A Million Ways to Die in the West‘s is barely that.
Behind the Scenes (27:36):
- Once Upon a Time in a Different West (10:06)– They say that the Western is the hardest genre, and coincidentally that’s actually what drew Seth MacFarlane and his crew to the picture. In this featurette, the filmmakers reveal how the idea came together and what each actor brought to their role. To hear MacFarlane and his other co-writers talk about the inception of the story actually puts a unique spin on the film as a whole, even if it doesn’t fully meet expectations. You understand where they were coming from with each idea, and why specific actors were cast in each role. It’s also entertaining to watch people like Neil Patrick Harris and Liam Neeson jaw for the camera while talking about their roles.
- A Fistful of Dirt…In Your Mouth (10:49) – Few would expect that a comedy would offer a 10-minute featurette about the making of the movie itself, but those people don’t know Seth MacFarlane. Although A Million Ways may be an anachronistic tale with a satirical bent, the production tried to adhere as closely to the Western genre as possible. This featurette examines those elements that help reinforce that realism, from the locations to the costumes to the music. It’s an insightful look into how the town of Old Stump came to be that is surprisingly comprehensive.
- The Good, The Bad, and The Increasingly Decreasing Population (6:41) – A brief look at the various cameos in the film, which are oftentimes reserved for one-off, pointless jokes. Really, this featurette is just a chance to give a nod of the hat to those high-profile actors who came out to the set, but the fact that there is such a video package is still worth highlighting. There’s also several minutes dedicated to the big, unexpected gag of the film, which if you’re a fan of the property makes the featurette all worth it.
Scoring the Film Preview
Bottom Line: If there was any doubt that Seth MacFarlane doesn’t have an eye for detail, it’s sure to be dismissed after watching these features. Like was mentioned, the film may not hold up under close scrutiny, but it’s hard to deny the crew didn’t go for it. These featurettes are both insightful and informative, as they explore the various ins and outs of bringing this Western comedy to life. It’s easily the most compelling content on the disc and at almost 30 minutes in length is surprisingly comprehensive for the genre.
Deleted/Extended/Alternate Scenes & Gag Reel (20:53):
- [Alternate] An alternate opening featuring Albert’s duel with the gunslinger (3:28)
- [Alternate] An alternate ending where Foy (Neil Patrick Harris) and Louise (Amanda Seyried) flee to Mexico (0:47)
- [Alternate] An alternate version of the scene where Edward talks about his job (0:32)
- [Deleted] Albert’s father has bad flatulence (0:19)
- [Alternate] Albert and Edward talk about his date (1:27)
- [Extended] Albert messes up Foy’s wares (0:49)
- [Deleted] Foy shares more puns at the fair (0:26)
- [Extended] Albert talks about Anna’s dress (1:28)
- [Alternate] Alternate versions of Albert’s dream sequence (5:54)
There’s a surprising amount of deleted, extended, and alternate scenes on the disc, but don’t expect to find any new laughs here. It becomes evident pretty quick why each of these takes were not used, as most of them are not only dry, they add nothing to the film. That being said, the alternate version of Albert’s dream sequence does have some pre-visualization shots that offer a slight peek behind the curtain.
A Million Ways to Die in the West Gag Reel Preview
- Gag Reel (5:43) – Although this should have been one of the genuine slam dunks of the disc, the gag reel is somewhat disappointing. Sure, there are some laughs to be had in MacFarlane’s off-the-cuff rants or any of the other actor’s hamming it up, but this is more of an actors messing up their lines featurette than a gag reel. Those who expect some alternate jokes or improv will find this particular package underwhelming.
Bottom Line: The expectation here is that the deleted scenes might offer new jokes, but since the film itself is decidedly lacking in genuine laughs most won’t find this alternate content entertaining. Even the gag reel fails to muster more than a few chuckles, as most of the outtakes are actors flubbing their lines or trying alternate line reads that fall flat. Props to the crew for putting together a comprehensive selection of extra content, but it’s unfortunately not worth anyone but the most die-hard MacFarlane fans’ time.
This disc’s hidden gem is not a particular piece of making-of content, but rather a behind the scenes detail that actually colors the movie in a completely new way. Throughout several of the featurettes, and even in the commentary, MacFarlane and his crew talk about the harsh climate of New Mexico and how hard it made the shooting process. In fact, there were several instances where the crew had to leave and come back because the wind was so bad it made filming almost impossible.
And so, knowing that A Million Ways to Die in the West ended up flopping at the box office adds a new wrinkle to the viewing experience. It’s like watching a film and knowing that all the effort that went into getting particular shots or scenes was for naught. At least they get to complain about the weather incessantly on the commentary track.
Although A Million Ways to Die in the West does offer a rated and an unrated version, it’s hard to imagine any but the most devoted of MacFarlane’s fan base will be drawn in by a slightly different version of a poorly-reviewed movie. On top of that, the commentary track does little to enrich the viewing experience, outside of a few insightful anecdotes here or there. Rather, the movie and commentary track combination exemplifies the hit-or-miss nature of MacFarlane’s brand of humor. And in this case it’s mostly a miss for both the commentary and the deleted scenes/gag reel.
The Blu-Ray’s one shining section is the behind the scenes content, which is thorough and well composed. It provides a closer look at MacFarlane’s process and details far more aspects of the production than the average behind-the-scenes section would. More importantly, it adds a greater appreciation for how well the film adheres to the Western genre.
So, for those looking to get a little behind the scenes look at MacFarlane’s filmmaking process then this disc might (and that’s a very qualified might) be worth picking up. Same goes for those who did enjoy A Million Ways to Die in the West in theaters – they will likely enjoy the brand of humor on display in the commentary and gag reel. For the rest, however, this disc, while packed with content, is an easy pass.
A Million Ways to Die in the West is out now on DVD/Blu-ray and Digital Download.