Sunday, March 23, 2014

Louis L'Amour meets FAMILY GUY

A Million Ways to Die in the West is a comedic screenplay due in theaters as a movie on May 30. It's by Seth MacFarlane, the most financially successful comic writer alive, creator of Family Guy and American Dad (and the movie Ted.) The movie stars Liam Neeson and Charlize Theron, with MacFarlane as Albert, and Neil Patrick Harris as Foy. The novel version is narrated on audio by Star Trek's Riker, Jonathan Frakes. It's about a cowardly sheep farmer who falls for a new woman in town, then must face her husband---a notorious gun slinger. There's a reason why the guy is a sheep farmer. And why Sarah Silverman is also in the movie. There's a lot of gratuitous whatever. The movie looks to be hilarious, with both the book and movie making the spoofy point that the old west has been romanticized in literature and films for too long, and MacFarlane has a lot of fun pointing out the fallacies of that romance with spicy romance and derring-do of his own. As MacFarlane's first novel, it's fleshed out a little more than the movie can be, but nonetheless suffers from being slow in parts and too confusing, not being the original source material. Set in 1882 in Arizona, the plot isn't meant to be taken seriously, so criticism shouldn't attempt to compare Seth to Elmore Leonard, Max Brand, or Louis L'Amour. That's like comparing apples with rattlesnake eggs. Think Three Amigos or Blazing Saddles in fan fiction format, instead. With plenty of jokes and melodramatic action scenes. As a novelist, Seth still has something to learn about pacing and character development. Which is not to say that his novelization won't become a bestseller when the movie comes out. Just that "no one is going to say the book is better than the movie." Which is the same thing the Washington Post is saying about Divergent.

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