A Million Ways to Die in the West



Overly crude jokes and gross-out humor drag comedy down.
  • Review Date: May 30, 2014
  • Rated: R
  • Genre: Comedy
  • Release Year: 2014
  • Running Time: 116 minutes

What parents need to know

Positive messages

Amid all of its debauched jokes, the movie does have positive messages about friendship, loving someone who actually loves you back for who you are (not just because they're attractive or successful), believing in yourself, and lending a hand to a friend in need.

Positive role models

Even though there's a lot of iffy behavior in the movie, most of the characters have their redeeming qualities: Albert starts off a miserable coward, but he ends up standing up for what he believes in and the woman he loves; Anna is the wife of a murderous bandit, but she's also kind and generous to Albert and is a strong, independent woman.


It's all played for humor, but people are constantly in peril and die in a wide variety of ways in the movie's Wild West: getting crushed by ice, run over by animals, shot, stabbed, poisoned, burned, impaled, etc. People are killed with weapons (mostly guns and knives), by disease, and even by their own toxic flatulence. Other violence includes dismemberment, a dead body being dragged by wolves, death, and discussions of violence. Characters fight with fists and weapons.


Constant references to sex, including crass terms and conversations. One of the key characters, Ruth, is a prostitute who freely discusses her job with her boyfriend (with whom she is celibate). Ruth is told that her breath smells like oral sex and is shown with semen on her cheek. The madam tells Ruth that a man wants sex in a particular position, and later she complains about being sore. She and a customer can be heard having sex and saying crude things to each other. The humor includes many double-meaning jokes and one-liners, like when Albert tells Anna he's going to "shoot a full load on your cans" when they're working on his marksmanship. A man's naked behind is not only shown in close up, but then a woman sticks a flower between his cheeks. There's also a close-up of a sheep's penis urinating and a shadow simulation of oral sex. A woman sucks on a man's mustache while he pleasures himself. Reference to anal sex. And more!


Nearly every line of dialogue in the movie has an expletive, most prominently "f--k" (both as an exclamation and a euphemism for sex) and "s--t," but also "a--hole," "p---y," "d--k" (the body part and the insult), "son of a bitch," "bitch," "c--k," "hell," "jerk," "crap," and "whore." Religious exclamations such as "Jesus!," "Jesus Christ," and "goddamn" are also said frequently. Native Americans are referred to as Indians (which would have been accurate in time the movie takes place in).

Not applicable
Drinking, drugs, & smoking

The main characters don't get drunk quite as often/severely as the background characters do, but there are many scenes in a saloon/whorehouse, with lots of drinking and smoking. Anna makes a pot brownie and rolls a cigarette. Albert partakes of both and additionally imbibes a hallucinogenic when he's with Native Americans. He also rides a horse drunk. The movie shows the consequences of drug use, particularly paranoia and confusion.

Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that A Million Ways to Die in the West is a raunchy comedy from star-director-producer Seth MacFarlane (Family Guy, Ted) that's guaranteed to appeal to teens, despite (or, frankly, because of) the extremely crude content. There's near-constant profanity, including crass terms for sex, genitalia, and sexual positions (as well as "f--k," "s--t," and all the other usual suspects). Although there's only one nude scene (a man's behind), there are tons of references to sex -- including prostitution, oral sex, and virginity -- throughout the movie. Characters drink, smoke, and do drugs (with some consequences shown for the latter). And as the title suggests, violence in the Wild West is the overarching theme of the story, so there are deaths due to gun and knife violence, random animal attacks, natural disasters, and more. Despite all of this, the movie does give its characters some redeeming qualities, and themes of friendship, real love, and believing in yourself run through the film.

What's the story?

Set in the 1882 Arizona frontier town of Old Stump, A MILLION WAYS TO DIE IN THE WEST starts off with Albert (Seth MacFarlane), a lovable loser of a sheep farmer, talking and joking his way out of a pistol duel. His act of cowardice leads his girlfriend, Louise (Amanda Seyfried), to dump him in favor of mustache elixir impresario Foy (Neil Patrick Harris). Albert therefore believes he has nothing to live for in the West, where he believes there are literally millions of ways to die. Enter the mysterious Anna (Charlize Theron), who shows up in town and is quickly drawn to Albert, teaching him how to shoot like a pro and making Louise jealous. But the truth is that Anna is the unhappy wife of the West's most notorious bandit, Clinch Leatherwood (Liam Neeson). What does that mean for Albert?

Is it any good?


MacFarlane's latest comedy is equal parts clever meta-Western, disgusting lowbrow comedy, even-more disgusting tribute to bodily fluids, and occasional showcase for talented comedic actors. It's not surprising, given MacFarlane's years of luring A-listers to guest voice on his animated shows, that the ensemble cast is so notable, including high-profile cameos and secondary characters (like Giovanni Ribisi and Sarah Silverman, who play Albert's reliable best friend, Edward, and his prostitute-with-a-heart-of-gold girlfriend, Ruth, respectively). Unfortunately, the cast's talent and the laugh-out-loud moments are completely pulled under by the weight of the disgusting jokes, some of which are so cringe-worthy and crass that adult audiences will want to close their eyes lest they gag.

If diarrhea jokes, sheep penises, and semen are your thing, this is definitely the movie for you. But most likely the movie's unnecessary shock-value scenes will take away from what is every now and then a genuinely funny and even sweet story, leaving you alternately amused, revolted, grossed out, and downright disappointed. No doubt MacFarlane's many fans will flock to this like the sheep Albert tends, but others may want to pass on the bodily fluid-obsessed comedy.

Families can talk about...

  • Families can talk about gross-out humor and its role in movies. Who does that sort of comedy appeal to? When does it cross the line -- and who determines where that line falls?

  • A Million Ways to Die in the West has some positive messages, but do they get lost in the crude humor? Who's the intended audience for this movie? How can you tell?

  • Does this movie reinforce stereotypes, or does it make fun of them? Is it OK to make fun of a group if it's one of many targets? Why or why not?

Movie details

Theatrical release date:May 30, 2014
DVD release date:October 7, 2014
Cast:Seth MacFarlane, Liam Neeson, Amanda Seyfried, Charlize Theron
Director:Seth MacFarlane
Studio:Universal Pictures
Run time:116 minutes
MPAA rating:R
MPAA explanation:strong crude and sexual content, language throughout, some violence and drug material

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Parent of a 11, 14, and 16 year old Written byJRC92 June 2, 2014

We should have read the reviews first...

My husband and I took our 14 year old son to see this....my son told us we should arrest ourselves or turn ourselves into CPS...he was joking of course but we all were embarrassed and appalled by this movie. Not appropriate for my 14 year old son, although my 16 year old daughter could handle it. I don't really understand why any parent would take much younger kids to see this movie.
What other families should know
Too much sex
Too much swearing
Too much drinking/drugs/smoking
Kid, 11 years old December 6, 2014

Loved the movie!

When you come to think about it this movie should be rated PG-13. The material in here is as bad as family guy and that is TV-14. There is bad language like, , s**t, f**k and c**k but those are it. There is not any nudity in this movie although a man and a women are having sex under a blanket. I think the only reason this movie is rated R is because of the language not anything else. Please find this review helpful.
What other families should know
Too much swearing
Teen, 16 years old Written bypopstino May 31, 2014

Hilarious and Fun

This is a hilarious movie set in the west. Seth Mcfarlane is a genius. This was a raunchy movie but not nearly as inappropriate as I expected. The jokes and gags are amazing! Quite a few good cameo's too.
What other families should know
Too much sex
Too much swearing
Too much drinking/drugs/smoking


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