My rating: 7
IMDB rating: 6.2
IMDB link: A Million Ways to Die in the West
Comedy is such a bizarre thing. The reason why I found this movie quite hilarious was the fact that it blended very obvious humour with “clever humour”. It would be an understatement to say that I did not like the movie Ted, and therefore I went into this film with some degree of scepticism, but I have to say that I was pleasantly surprised.
The thing about making a parody is that you have to have a good understanding of the source material. In order words, for Seth MacFarlane to be able to so effectively make fun of the Western, his knowledge of the traditional Western has to be quite good. This, I think, contributes to the success of this particular movie.
WiseGeek.org states that the characteristics of a Western are the following:
- It takes place in the American West (i.e. the frontier)— Check!
- Set between the 1850s and 1900s— Check!
- Westerns include cowboys usually wearing bandannas, denim and Colt 45s — Check!
- Conflict between settlers and Indians— Check!
- Settlers build isolated homesteads or live in small towns, which often boasts a main street, a jail, a livery stable and a saloon— Check!
Subsequently, it can be said that the humour in this film relies quite heavily on a certain amount of intertextuality. In order for the viewer to fully understand all the humorous nuances, a certain amount of familiarity with the intertext, in other words the Western, needs to be present. In that sense, I think it was necessary for the writer to add “obvious humour” to not alienate those that are not familiar with the Western genre.
All in all, I think that the film was quite successful in the sense that it not only provided comic relief, but also provided humour on two levels to attract a larger audience.
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