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MAY 30 - JUNE 5, 2014



'A Million Ways to Die in the West' shoots blanks

By Chic DiCiccio After “Ted,” a movie about an obnoxious talking teddy bear, earned just under $500 million all over the world, it probably became difficult for any movie studio to say “No” to Seth MacFarlane. So when MacFarlane walked into a pitch meeting and said, “Hey, I’d like to make a Western Comedy,” surely everyone in the room thought it was a fantastic idea. It is not a fantastic idea. It’s not even a good idea. In fact, “A Million Ways to Die in the West” is so disjointed, self-serving and grotesque that any goodwill it earns for the few truly inspired and funny moments is thrown away moments later. It makes sense for MacFarlane, who directed, produced and co-wrote the movie with some of his “Family Guy” team, to make the jump to the screen and star in one of his own films. He plays Albert, an obnoxious know-it-all that seems to hate everyone and everything except for his shallow, airhead girlfriend Louise (Amanda Seyfried).

While Albert’s reasons for hating the frontier are all true and quite funny, the second extended sequence highlighting all those reasons goes into overkill territory, and it quickly becomes highly irritating instead of funny. The movie gets a relief from MacFarlane’s brutal screen presence when Charlize Theron’s Anna rides into town. Anna is married to Clinch Leatherwood (Liam Neeson), known as the most dangerous outlaw in the west. One would think that

a movie trying to spoof Westerns would create a fun and clever villain. Nope. MacFarlane seems to have missed the day in Comedy School that explained that comedic villains (a la Harvey Korman in “Blazing Saddles”) are supposed to be funny. In a movie filled with nonstop attempts at comedy, MacFarlane ignores the one role that should have been easy to comedically knock out of the park. Anna helps Albert learn to fire a pistol, as

that takes place in their “native” language. There is also a very funny gag about how nobody smiles when getting their picture taken. These are moments that show promise and are smartly funny. But then the rest of the movie happens. There is an animated sequence with MacFarlane that is a complete embarrassment. The sheer volume of gross Photo courtesy of Universal Pictures out humor is overhe mistakenly challenges whelming. There is Louise’s new boyfriend, Foy a sequence that is a border(Neil Patrick Harris), to a line career killer for Harris. duel. Foy is a well-to-do It’s disgusting and shocking owner of a mustachery, which that Harris would even agree is a store that sells fancy oils to do it. and creams designed to style There is little doubt that a man’s mustache. There is a MacFarlane and Co. went running joke about mustachcompletely unchecked when es that, like many others in making this movie. There are the movie, completely bombs. several moments that feel like “A Million Ways to Die they should have been outin the West” has a few scenes takes and left behind in the that are inspired and clever, editing room. most notably a scene inThat is what hapvolving Indians and an expens when someone like tremely funny conversation MacFarlane is given free reign. This is an exercise in self-indulgence, from the movie being far too long to MacFarlane inserting himself as the film’s star. MacFarlane’s Albert seems like you’re doing nothing more than watching him be himself in a Western setting. He rants and raves,

Shark sighting at the Magnolia Theater The classic 1975 thriller “Jaws” will be shown on Tuesday, June 3 at the Magnolia Theatre at 3699 McKinney Ave. in the West Village in Uptown. Showtimes are at 7:30 and 10 p.m. Starring Roy Scheider, Robert Shaw and Richard Dreyfuss, the Steven Spielberg directed film centers on a small beach community, Amity Island, terrorized by a great white shark. An iconic Oscar-winning dramatic score by John Williams furthers heightens the tension in this highest Universal Studios earner at that time. “Jaws” also won Oscars for Sound and Film Editing. “Jaws” continues the Magnolia Theatre’s "Big Movie" series. Next up will be “What’s Up Doc?,” “Cabaret” and “Soylent Green.” A new series of films will start July 1. For more information, log onto or call 214-5200394. — By Ken Freehill

BELLES cont'd from page 4 then managing director. Van Kleeck performed in, directed and costumed more than one hundred shows at the historic theater. She developed a nationally recognized summer internship program and a year-round professional theater company. During a two-year hiatus, Van Kleeck multi-tasked as an actor and costume designer for Hudson, Florida’s Show Palace Dinner Theater. She continues to direct and design for the theater company she co-founded, One Thirty Productions at the Bath House.

Photo courtesy of Universal Studios

“The past design for the four months at T3 company she have been a great co-founded, learning experiOne Thirty ence, especially Productions, at learning the staff,” the Bath House she said. She did Cultural Center. costumes and Not only props for T3’s run is Van Kleeck a of “Greater Tuna” veteran of live last month and is theater, she’s currently directing performed in the highly praised Marty Van Kleeck film, television production of and commercials. “Shear Madness.” The director She played herself as former said, “This is a fun show that managing director at the Dallasites and tourists will Granbury Opera House in enjoy through July 20.” one episode of 2009s “Ghost She has been a theater Lab,” a television documenconsultant to the Cities of tary series. Granbury, Georgetown and In 2012, the actor apPlainview. She continues to peared in the short film,



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hating everything that he sees, being pompous and acting smarter than everyone else. The act gets old very quickly. If not for Charlize Theron, this movie is borderline unwatchable. She is so effortlessly charming, that even in this poorly written role, she excels. She doesn’t use her gorgeous looks at all in this movie and definitely needs to get involved in comedies that are much better than this. There is a moment when she gives Albert a pot cookie that is so adorable that it makes you wish “A Million Ways to Die in the West” was written with her as the main role. It’s impossible to feel anything but pity for Neil Patrick Harris, Giovanni Ribisi and Sarah Silverman. They are in roles that are so horrendous and one-note that it’s painful to watch. They are each trying so hard to be funny, but it’s like watching someone try to squeeze water from a stone. “A Million Ways to Die in the West” is nothing more than a longer “Family Guy” episode and not one of the actual good ones. There is a forced musical number, enough potty humor to make even the strongest of stomachs turn, and a lead actor that is too smug to be entertaining. This vanity project should be so poorly received that it forces MacFarlane to retreat and stay behind the camera, where it is still debatable that he belongs.

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“Sirens,” written and directed by Marc Rosenzwieg. She said her favorite roles include Sarah in “JB,” with Mercedes McCambridge; Billy Dawn in “Born Yesterday;” Mrs. Manningham in “Angel Street;” and Adelaide in “Guys and Dolls.” “Marty joined us and immediately raised staff accomplishment and aptitude by 100 percent. It’s a perfect fit for Theatre Three and our Board of Directors, the staff and I are all not just pleased, but ecstatic with her creativity (and remarkable industry) now harnessed for Theatre Three’s special missions,” Alder said.

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Katy Trail Weekly - May 30, 2014  

Katy Trail Weekly provides Dallas' best community updates, local news, special events and neighborhood information for Downtown, Uptown, Tur...

Katy Trail Weekly - May 30, 2014  

Katy Trail Weekly provides Dallas' best community updates, local news, special events and neighborhood information for Downtown, Uptown, Tur...