LOGAN LUCKY (2017) – Light and Fun but Short on Laughter

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Logan-Lucky poster

Director Steven Soderbergh has enjoyed a long and varied career.  He’s made dramas [SEX, LIES, AND VIDEOTAPE (1989)], comedies [MAGIC MIKE (2012), science fiction [SOLARIS (2002), thrillers [SIDE EFFECTS (2013), and of course the George Clooney OCEAN 11 movies.

With LOGAN LUCKY (2017), Soderbergh returns to comedy in this lighthearted tale about two brothers planning an improbable heist at the Charlotte Motor Speedway. And while it appears that everyone involved is having a great time, it doesn’t always translate to full-throated laughter.

Things are not going well for Jimmy Logan (Channing Tatum).  He loses his construction job because of a bad leg, and his ex-wife Bobbie Jo (Katie Holmes) is about to move out-of-state with her new husband, which will make it more difficult for the out-of-work Jimmy to see his young daughter Sadie (Farrah Mackenzie) on a regular basis.

So, Jimmy plots with his bartender brother Clyde (Adam Driver) to rob the Charlotte Motor Speedway. He chooses the race track because he had been working there on the construction crew repairing sink holes, and he had seen firsthand the vault underneath the stadium which holds the cash from the concession stands.

To pull off the heist, Jimmy and Clyde turn to the their friend Joe Bang (Daniel Craig), who is an expert at blowing open safes. Trouble is, Bang is in jail, and so Jimmy and Clyde concoct a plan to break Bang out of prison so he can do the job and then get him back inside again without anyone noticing. To do this, they employ the help of Bang’s two oddball brothers, Fish (Jack Quaid) and Sam (Brian Gleeson), as well as their own sister Mellie Logan (Riley Keough).

Then it’s off to the races, or so they hope.

LOGAN LUCKY reminded me a lot of a Coen brothers movie, only without the dark edges. It features quirky characters, puts them in some ridiculous situations, and lets things fly. The only difference is with a Coen brothers movie you expect something bad to happen, some bloodshed perhaps, while here, the loose ends are all tied together nicely, perhaps a bit too nicely.

Incredibly, the story manages to remain grounded in reality. In spite of how wildly inane the plot becomes, it all remains believable, and the characters in spite of their eccentricities remain real. It’s a smart script by Rebecca Blunt.

That being said, I wouldn’t have minded more zaniness, as the film isn’t as funny as it should be.  More laughs, and sharper ones, would have definitely made things better.

The story jumps back and forth between Jimmy’s West Virginia home and the Charlotte Motor Speedway in North Carolina, and the whole film is steeped in southern country atmosphere, helped along by Jimmy’s favorite song, John Denver’s “Country Roads.”

Director Soderbergh also gets the most out of his strong cast in LOGAN LUCKY.

I’m not a Channing Tatum fan, but he’s excellent here as Jimmy Logan.  He’s pretty much the straight man in the story, and while he’s surrounded by oddball characters and takes part in a ridiculous scheme, his character remains pretty real.  This might be my favorite Channing Tatum movie performance, mostly because it reminds me of nothing he has done before.

Likewise, Adam Driver excels as Jimmy’s brother Clyde.  Seriously, all Driver has to do in this movie is stand there and he gets laughs.  It’s a much more satisfying performance than his troubled Kylo Ren in STAR WARS: THE FORCE AWAKENS (2015).  I enjoyed Driver much more here.

And then there’s Daniel Craig as safe cracker Joe Bang, looking as far removed from James Bond here as ever, with his southern accent and quirky personality.  It’s probably the most fun performance by Craig- who always looks so serious- to date.  The scenes where Tatum, Driver, and Craig appear together are very funny, and the film soars during these moments, like the sequence where Joe Bang explains to Jimmy and Clyde the chemical formula for his bomb, writing the formula on the wall of the motor speedway tunnel and speaking to them as if he’s a classroom chemistry teacher.  But sadly there aren’t as many scenes with all three actors together as you might expect.

I’m quickly becoming a big fan of Riley Keough.  I first noticed her in the excellent horror movie IT COMES AT NIGHT (2017).  She’s superb again here as Jimmy’s and Clyde’s sister Mellie.  She’s wonderfully real, and terribly sexy at the same time.

Jack Quaid and Brian Gleeson are also very good in smaller roles as Joe’s brothers Fish and Sam. Katie Holmes’ role as Jimmy’s ex-wife Bobbie Jo is pretty standard.

Two other stars appear in smaller roles.  Seth MacFarlane is unrecognizable with his long hair, mustache, and a beard in a thankless role as a NASCAR promoter and TV personality Max Chilblain. And Hilary Swank shows up late in the game as FBI Agent Sarah Grayson who investigates the heist.

When Swank’s FBI agent shows up to investigate the robbery, it’s at a point in the film where it naturally seems to be winding down, but it doesn’t, and it continues to go on for some time, a bit too long. The final reel of the film seems tacked on and unnecessary.

Other than this, LOGAN LUCKY is a well-made, well-directed, well-acted, and smartly written comedy that is light and enjoyable. The only thing missing, and it’s a big thing, is the laughter.  While I chuckled here and there, the comedy simply isn’t as sharp as it needs to be.

Granted, the film has its moments, but for a movie that feels like a screwball comedy, the limited laughter came as a surprise.  That being said, LOGAN LUCKY has an intelligent script that keeps things believable throughout, and with a solid cast delivering exceptional performances, it’s a hard movie to dislike.

I just wished I had laughed more.

—END—

 

 

 

 

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CINEMA KNIFE FIGHT: TED 2 (2015)

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Here’s my Cinema Knife Fight review of TED 2, which appeared at cinemaknifefight.com this past weekend.

—Michael

CINEMA KNIFE FIGHT:  TED 2 (2015)Ted 2 poster

Movie Review by Michael Arruda

(THE SCENE:  A Comic Con in some big city.  Amidst a crowd of enthusiastic fans dressed as their favorite superheroes, STAR TREK and STAR WARS characters, sits MICHAEL ARRUDA at a table next to the LOST IN SPACE Robot.)

MICHAEL ARRUDA:  Welcome everyone to today’s Cinema Knife Fight column.  No, that’s not L.L. Soares dressed as the LOST IN SPACE Robot.  That’s the actual Robot!

ROBOT:  It is I.  The Robot!  Here as a guest on Cinema Knife Fight.

MA:  Happy to have you, and we’re here today because one of the scenes in today’s movie— TED 2— takes place at a Comic Con like this one, and my friend here, the LOST IN SPACE Robot, happens to be in that scene.  It might be my favorite part of this movie.

ROBOT:  Affirmative!  I am the life of this movie.

MA:  Well, I wish you were.  You don’t have any lines or anything, but I was still happy to see you.

ROBOT:  That’s right.  I didn’t have any lines.  What was my agent thinking?  There just aren’t any good roles for an aging robot, these days!

MA:  Well, even you couldn’t have saved this movie.

Yep, today on Cinema Knife Fight, I’m reviewing TED 2, and I’m flying solo this week because L.L. Soares had sense enough to skip this one.

I’m going to get right to the point: I hated TED 2.

ROBOT:  Hate?  Hate is a strong word.  I advise you to avoid using it, Will Robinson.

MA:  It’s okay.  This isn’t a LOST IN SPACE episode.  We can say hate here.  And I’m not Will Robinson.

ROBOT:  Of course you are not!  Did I say that you were?  Eh hem.

MA (to audience):  I think he’s having a senior robot moment.

ROBOT:  I heard that!

MA:  As I was saying, I did not like TED 2 at all.  It’s one of my least favorite movies of the year.  Why, you ask?  Well, read on!

TED 2 is the sequel to the hit movie TED (2012), the Seth MacFarlane comedy about a toy stuffed bear come to life.  I was not crazy about TED, but I enjoyed the foul-mouthed talking bear, as I found him quite funny, and I enjoyed the way he interacted with his best buddy John (Mark Wahlberg).  They were a hoot together.  What I didn’t like about it was its story which I found to be a bore, a tale of John trying to choose between Ted and his girlfriend.  Seriously?  But the bear was funny.

Now comes the sequel, TED 2.  Ted is now married, while John is divorced.  Ted’s marriage is not going that well, so he takes a co-worker’s advice and decides he and his wife should have a baby because having children will bring a troubled couple closer together.  Really?  Sounds like a recipe for disaster to me.

Ted, of course, since he’s a toy bear, can’t have children, and so he and John concoct a plan to steal sperm from New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady, in a scene that is flat out weird and way too creepy to be funny.  When their attempt fails, John agrees to donate his own sperm, but then Ted learns that his wife Tami-Lynn (Jessica Barth) cannot have children, so they decide to adopt.  They are turned down because in the eyes of the law, Ted is not a person and so he can’t adopt a child.

They decide to take Ted’s case to court, to have the legal system declare him a person, and so they hire a young attorney Samantha (Amanda Seyfried) to take on the case.  The rest of the movie follows their efforts to have Ted declared a person, and they have to overcome one obstacle after another, including the return of Donny (Giovanni Ribisi), the psycho from the first movie who was obsessed with Ted, and he’s back again, still trying to tear Ted away from John.

So, why isn’t TED 2 funny?

I don’t think I have time in one review to list all the reasons.

Let’s start with the humor.  It’s pretty much the lowest common denominator of humor.  Drug jokes, bathroom jokes, and sex jokes, and as for the rest, it is simply not creative enough to get laughs.  It’s almost as if Seth MacFarlane thinks his reputation at being a “bad boy in comedy” is enough.  If he’s vulgar and shocking enough, everything else will fall into place. Well, it’s not enough.  The jokes have to be funny, and in this movie, they are not.  And that’s the number one problem with TED 2.  It’s simply not funny.

There are jokes galore.  They’re nonstop, which makes the fact that the film didn’t make me laugh all the more amazing.

The film tries to be creative with its humor, and there’s plenty of star power here, but oddly none of it works.  There’s a cameo with Liam Neeson shopping at the supermarket discussing with Ted if it’s okay for him to eat Trix breakfast cereal since he’s not a kid.  Trix are for kids, get it?  Ha Ha.  Not.  I think I laughed when I first saw Neeson because of the potential this scene had, but then it went nowhere.

(LIAM NEESON walks by the table.)

NEESON:  I understand you didn’t like my cameo.

ROBOT (Points to MA):  He didn’t.  I liked it just fine.

MA:  No.  I didn’t like it.  I’m surprised you even did it.

NEESON:  I have bills to pay.

MA:  Don’t we all.

NEESON:  Maybe you would have liked it better if we used a different cereal.  Fruit Loops, maybe.

MA:  Follow your nose.

NEESON: Are you making fun of my nose?

MA:  No.  It’s the line from the Fruit Loops commercials with Toucan Sam.

NEESON: You might want to be careful with what you say.  I put the last guy who criticized me in the hospital.

ROBOT:  Danger!  Danger, Will Robinson!

NEESON:  Just sayin.  (Exits.)

MA:  Don’t sweat it, Robot.  He’ll get over it.

Anyway, then there’s the conclusion at Comic Con.  This sequence should have been hilarious.  It includes a slapstick fight in which fans dressed as comic book and science fiction characters duke it out, and so we see the Lost in Space Robot tangle with a Dalek from Dr. Who, superheroes and Star Trek characters going at it, and even Godzilla gets in on the act.  It’s a geek’s dream!  But it’s not funny.

Patrick Warburton returns from the first movie, once again playing Guy, and in this film Michael Dorn (Worf from STAR TREK: THE NEXT GENERATION) plays his gay lover.  There’s a gag in the Comic Con sequence where Warburton dresses as The Tick (the title character he played in the short-lived TV series in the early 2000s) and Dorn dresses as Worf, and they go around the convention tripping people and pouring drinks on them all the while insulting them.  This is supposed to be humorous.  It’s not.  It’s painfully unfunny!

(WORF approaches.) WORF:  It is not honorable for a Klingon to poke fun at himself!

MA:  So, you saw TED 2?

WORF:  TED 2?  What is that?

ROBOT:  TED 2 is an American comedy written and directed by Seth MacFarlane.  It stars Mark Wahlberg and—.

WORF:  Enough!  I do not care about such trivial matters as motion pictures!

MA:  So, what were you talking about when you said Klingon’s shouldn’t poke fun at themselves?

WORF:  I was talking about him!  (Points to a Klingon performing Karaoke in front of an audience).  He is a disgrace!

MA:  Yup.  He can’t hold a tune to save his life, but he’s not really a Klingon.  He’s a fan dressed as a Klingon.

WORF:  Klingons do not have fans!  We have adversaries and enemies!  (Exits.)

ROBOT:  He suffers from a maladjusted disposition.  In short, he’s a grump!

MA:  I’m going to continue now with the review.

In the first film, Mark Wahlberg and Ted were funny together.  They’re not here.  All the jokes seem rehashed.  I like Mark Wahlberg a lot.  It was painful to watch him play this role.

Likewise, I’m a big Amanda Seyfried fan, and again, it was excruciating to see her play this awful role.  In one scene for example she’s reduced to smoking pot from a bong shaped like a penis.  Speaking of penises, there’s a running gag about them in this film which has to do with internet searches and what pops up whenever you do a search on the internet.  All I kept thinking is this is the best a guy like Seth MacFarlane could come up with?

It gets worse.

We have to see lots of scenes where Ted argues with his wife Tami-Lynn, and she throws things at him and swears at him nonstop with her South Boston accent.  She’s reduced to a bad stereotype, and these scenes are also painful to watch.

Sam Jones, Flash Gordon himself is back from the first movie, only this time his scenes are as funny as Ming the Merciless.  Also back from the first movie is Bill Smitrovich as Ted’s boss Frank.  In the first film, Smitrovich’s scenes were a highlight and were laugh-out loud funny.  He’s reduced to one scene in the sequel, and it’s a straight scene, no comedy or jokes involved.  Really?

Giovanni Ribisi is back again as psycho Donny.  A lot of people liked Donny in the first film.  I thought his subplot was the worst part of the first movie.  In TED 2 Donny is still out to get Ted, and I still don’t care.

Even Morgan Freeman shows up.  What are all these people doing in this movie?  Does Seth MacFarlane have compromising photographs of these folks?

Freeman delivers a dramatic courtroom monologue about why Ted should be considered a person.  Now we get to one of the most insulting parts of TED 2, the parallels that this movie makes between Ted’s plight and the civil rights movement.

Are we supposed to take this story about Ted seriously?  Absolutely not, which to me, makes the references in this movie to the plight of those fighting for equal rights throughout history, offensive.  Well, maybe offensive is too strong a word, but it just rubbed me the wrong way. TED 2 as a vehicle for social commentary is like having Jim Carrey and Jeff Daniels as the poster boys for special education.  No.

Only John Slattery from TV’s MAD MEN comes out okay.  Slattery plays a smooth talking winner-take-all district attorney, and he plays the role straight.  He has his one scene and pretty much makes sense as he makes his case convincingly as to why Ted is not a person.  Slattery might be the only person in this movie who doesn’t embarrass himself.

And regarding the “star” of this one, Ted the Bear, the CGI creation performed by Seth MacFarlane, he was my favorite part of the first movie, but sadly, he’s nowhere near as funny the second time around.  In fact, I found him flat out annoying in this sequel.

I did something during TED 2 I hardly ever do in a movie.  I found myself looking at my watch, and I was shocked to see that only one hour had gone by.  It felt like two.  Worse, TED 2 is a two hour movie, and so there was still yet another agonizing hour to go.

TED 2 was written and directed by Seth MacFarlane, and Alec Sulkin and Wellesley Wild also contributed to the screenplay.  It gives me no pleasure to write negatively about other people’s work, but there’s not much positive I can say about this one.   It all comes down to laughter.  And I simply didn’t laugh during this movie.

One thing I did like about this movie is a large chunk of it takes place in Boston, and the shots of Boston look good.  But I can drive to Boston on my own and don’t need a movie to show me how good it looks.

Want to watch a funny movie that mixes humor with vulgarity and off color jokes?  Watch an old Mel Brooks movie instead.

I give it half a knife.

And it gets half a knife because I like both Mark Wahlberg and Amanda Seyfried, and also because I can’t give a movie which features an appearance by the LOST IN SPACE Robot 0 knives, no matter how bad it is.

And at half a knife, that makes TED 2 the worst movie I’ve seen this year.

Okay, Robot, we’re done here.  I think I’ll take a stroll and browse around.

ROBOT: A good idea.  May I browse around with you?

MA:  Sure.  Come along.  It’ll be fun.

ROBOT:  We are going to browse around.

MA:  Come on, Robot.  I see some cool LOST IN SPACE merchandise over there.  Let’s check it out.

ROBOT:  This is going to be surreal.

—END—

CINEMA KNIFE FIGHT: A MILLION WAYS TO DIE IN THE WEST (2014)

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million_ways_to_die_in_the_west_ posterHere’s my CINEMA KNIFE FIGHT review of A MILLION WAYS TO DIE IN THE WEST (2014) which went up this weekend at cinemaknifefight.com, your place to read about movies, where you’ll find new movie content posted every day by L.L. Soares, myself, and a very talented staff of writers.

Thanks for reading!

—Michael

 

CINEMA KNIFE FIGHT: A MILLION WAYS TO DIE IN THE WEST (2014)
Review by Michael Arruda

(THE SCENE: A dusty frontier town in the old west. Tumbleweed blows across the path. Cool Ennio Morricone music begins to play, as a solitary figure on horseback rides into town. The townsfolk appear at their doors and windows. Two old timers appear at the door to the saloon.

OLD TIMER #1 (looking at man on horseback): Who is that?

OLD TIMER #2: Jumpin jackrabbits! That’s the Man With No Name!

(Camera closes in to reveal it is MICHAEL ARRUDA on horseback, looking grizzled and rough. ARRUDA looks into the camera and spits onto the ground.

OLD TIMER #1 (to his fellow Old Timer): You dumb nugget! That’s not the Man With No Name! That’s a Cinema Knife Fighter! (Cue dramatic beat)

(MA enters bar and approaches bartender.)

MA: Whiskey. (Bartender nods and pours MA a drink. The two old timers amble up to MA.)

OLD TIMER #1: Hey, Mr. Cinema Knife Fighter. Are you here to review a movie?

MA (glares at the man): What’s it to you?

OLD TIMER #1: Just askin. I meant no disrespect.

MA: None taken.

OLD TIMER #2: Don’t you usually ride with a partner?

MA (spits again): I’m ridin solo today.

OLD TIMER #2: Is he— (gulps)— pushin up daisies?

MA: He’s— preoccupied.

(Cut to L.L. SOARES in a gunfight with a bunch of bandits, while he has his arm around a beautiful buxom woman. They kiss, with LS never missing a beat as he continues to shoot the bandits, even pausing to guzzle some whiskey and smoke a cigar.

L.L. SOARES (looks at camera): I just love the Old West!)

(Back at the bar, an attractive young woman approaches MA.)

SALLY: Well, well, well, look who’s in town? (Looks at MA and leans in close to him) What movie are you reviewing today?

MA: A MILLION WAYS TO DIE IN THE WEST.

GUNSLINGER (jumps up from his seat): Is that a threat?

MA: It’s the name of the movie.

GUNSLINGER (pauses): I knew that. (Sits back down.)

SALLY: You gonna tell us about it?

MA (downs his whiskey): I didn’t come here for the view. (Looks at Sally) Not that I’m complainin. It’s a mighty fine view.

OLD TIMER #1: How about the movie? How was it?

MA: Well, let me tell you about it. A MILLION WAYS TO DIE IN THE WEST is the latest comedy by writer/director/actor Seth MacFarlane, the man behind the hit animated TV show FAMILY GUY, and the man who brought us the hit movie TED (2012), which I thought was just okay. I loved Ted the Bear, but the rest of the movie was uneven. I like FAMILY GUY, though.

Now comes A MILLION WAYS TO DIE IN THE WEST, a comedy western spoof that before seeing it immediately made me think of Mel Brooks’ classic BLAZING SADDLES (1974), and I’m not going to sit here and compare the two, because Brooks is one of my favorite filmmakers, and MacFarlane in terms of movies anyway is just getting started. That being said, he has a ways to go yet.

In a goofy movie like A MILLION WAYS TO DIE IN THE WEST, the plot hardly matters, but for the record: it’s the story of a young sheep farmer Albert (Seth MacFarlane) living in the Old West whose girlfriend Louise (Amanda Seyfried) breaks up with him because he’s a loser and instead dates the far more successful mustache shop owner Foy (Neil Patrick Harris).

Albert is crushed, but soon his fortunes change as a beautiful woman named Anna (Charlize Theron) rides into town, and she becomes attracted to Albert, and she helps him get over his former love. Albert is one happy man, until he discovers that Anna is married to the deadliest gunslinger in the west, Clinch (Liam Neeson).

When Clinch arrives in town with his gang, he makes it known to everyone that he’s going to kill the man who had been spending time with his wife. Albert must then decide either to run away or to stay and fight the deadly gunslinger.

The running gag in A MILLION WAYS TO DIE IN THE WEST is that the old west is a dangerous place to live and there’s no shortage of ways to die there.

(Chandelier falls from ceiling and lands on GUNSLINGER, instantly killing him.)

MA (points to fallen Gunslinger): Like that.

OLD TIMER #1: You mean things like this don’t happen in other places?

MA: Accidents happen everywhere. But modern medicine is more effective where I come from.

OLD TIMER #1: Jeesh. I never thought of it that way. I may have to move.

MA: Anyway, when the film stays focused on this theme, it’s really funny, but when it strays over to bathroom humor and sex jokes, it drops down several notches. So, for my money, A MILLION WAYS TO DIE IN THE WEST is a mixed bag.

I loved the jokes about death in the old west. There’s one sequence in particular where MacFarlane’s Albert delivers a diatribe to his two friends Edward (Giovanni Ribisi) and Ruth (Sarah Silverman) on just how deadly it is to live there that is absolutely hilarious. The jokes about life expectancy are also spot-on, like in one scene where Anna says she got married at 9 because she didn’t want to wait until she was 15 and old, as are the jokes about the medical practices of the day, like the treatment of the blue jay pecking at the facial wound.

OLD TIMER #1: I hate that! I always ask for the gnawing rat instead.

MA: Unfortunately, most of the sight gags featuring people dying in awful ways were given away in the film’s trailers. This isn’t the movie’s fault, I know, but it’s a fact that I can’t ignore, which is, that many of the funniest parts of this movie I had already seen in the film’s trailers.

For example, there’s a very funny sequence where Albert meets up with an Indian tribe that would have been even funnier had I not seen its best moments already.

Some of the running gags work, while others don’t. The scenes with Albert’s parents I thought were comical throughout and actually got funnier as the movie went on. On the other hand, the running gag of Albert’s friends Edward and Ruth waiting to have sex until they’re married, while Ruth has sex with other men every day because she’s a prostitute, was humorous at first, but after a while grew repetitive and tired.

When the film ventures into the lowest common denominator of comedy, bathroom humor, it, pardon the pun, bottoms out. We’re treated to sheep penises, sheep peeing on Albert, a hat full of excrement, fart jokes, and on I could go. If you like this sort of humor, then no doubt you’ll find A MILLION WAYS TO DIE IN THE WEST funnier than I did.

When MacFarlane steers clear of this stuff and actually gets creative with the material, the movie is very funny, but when he dips into the toilet water for humor, he produces what you’d expect to find in a toilet: a turd.

SALLY: That’s nasty.

MA: My point exactly.

The best comedians are the ones who have something to say, and when MacFarlane has something to say, the movie is better for it. When he jokes about farts and diarrhea, it begs the question, just how much can one say about going to the bathroom? Not much.

Even so, I enjoy MacFarlane the writer better than MacFarlane the actor. Here in A MILLION WAYS TO DIE IN THE WEST, there’s something very shallow about his performance as Albert. He’s supposed to be a likeable loser, but the problem is he’s not that likeable. He comes off more as a wise ass, and frankly, I didn’t understand why Anna was attracted to him. Albert doesn’t seem like a sincere person, as there’s something phony in MacFarlane’s performance, as if he’s about to wink at the camera and say “I’m screwing with you.”

It’s the opposite of TED. In TED, the best part was the stuffed bear, Ted, voiced by MacFarlane. Here, I’d have to say one of the worst parts was Albert, played by MacFarlane. I just didn’t buy the character.

Charlize Theron, on the other hand, gives the best performance in the movie. Anna is naturally funny, and her humor comes from her self-confidence, as she goes out of her way to teach Albert how to shoot a gun, and she helps him overcome his misguided attraction to the selfish Louise. The scenes where she trash talks Louise are some of the best in the movie, mostly because she does it with class and intelligence.

Liam Neeson plays it straight as the villain, Clinch, which is fine, but what’s not fine is that there’s no one funny around him to play off his seriousness. Clinch was in desperate need of some goofy henchman or something.

The rest of the cast is so-so. I like Amanda Seyfried a lot, and she’s fine here as Louise, but it’s a minor role, and she has little else to do but be cold and rude to Albert at first and jealous later. Neil Patrick Harris as Foy, the man who steals Albert’s girl, is just your standard pompous jerk.

Giovanni Ribisi, who was also in TED as the weirdo father who steals Ted to give to his even weirder son, is rather subdued here as Edward, the meek man who doesn’t mind that his wife is a prostitute who performs every possible sex act with other men but wants to wait until they’re married to have sex with him.

Sarah Silverman is actually pretty funny as Edward’s fiancée, Ruth, and she gets to enjoy some of the more vulgar parts of the movie when she talks about the things she does with her clients. It’s very funny at first but gets old fast.

A MILLION WAYS TO DIE IN THE WEST isn’t really a spoof of westerns. It’s just a comedy about a loser and his new girlfriend who helps him feel good about himself, which just happens to take place in the old west, a place in time where you were lucky if you lived to be thirty.

And while it’s funny at times, it never becomes as creative, silly, inane, or as sharp as it could have been. There are certainly glimpses of talent from the mind of Seth MacFarlane here, but unfortunately he likes to dip from the cesspool of bathroom humor, something he obviously is comfortable doing, because he does it often. It’s a habit that doesn’t serve him well.

A MILLION WAYS TO DIE IN THE WEST is an okay comedy that made me laugh here and there, but not as much as I would have liked. Fans of penises and feces no doubt will disagree and like it more than I did.

I give it two knives.

SALLY: It doesn’t sound like too bad a movie.

MA: It’s not. But it’s not great either.

SALLY: So, what does a nice Cinema Knife Fighter like yourself do after a hard day’s work?

MA: I can think of one or two things.

(Sally whispers into his ear)

MA: Those are two things that I was thinking of, yes. (To Old Timers) See you, gents.

(MA & Sally climb the stairs to the upper level of the bar and exit.)

OLD TIMER #2: Why are they going up to Sally’s room?

OLD TIMER #1 (striking his friend with his hat): You stupid old coyote! Why do you think they’re going up there?

OLD TIMER #2: To review another movie? Is that it? Does Sally have one of those newfangled Blu-ray players up there? They gonna review a Blu-ray movie?

OLD TIMER #1: You is stupid.

—END—