Seth MacFarlane’s A Million Ways To Die In The West came out this past weekend; and although it didn’t have as many of the classic MacFarlane pop culture references, it was still hilarious. Personally, his rant about why the West is a terrible place to live is one of the funniest things I have ever seen. Despite these hilarious moments, some critics have made the mistake of judging this film purely by its lack of references.
As a 1880s period piece, jokes about Boston girls or 80/90s television references would be very out of place. MacFarlane was able to make a film that didn’t have to go for the easy joke in order to make people laugh. This is similar to what Mel Brooks did with Blazing Saddles, – just don’t condemn this film for not being as good as Brook’s timeless classic.
Though contrary to popular belief, there actually were pop references in this film – if you knew where to look. With jokes about the early years of photography and ‘don’t drink and horse’, everything had to fit with the time period. If you’ve yet to see the film, then go read my Spoiler Free Review and go see it. If you have seen it, then as get ready for the Top 5 References/Easter Eggs of A Million Ways To Die In The West.
*Warning: Spoilers Ahead*
As I said, the references in this film couldn’t just happen for the sake of being in the film. The material had to be able to fit in the time period. As a result, most of the references were more like anachronisms. An example of this is when Albert is warned to not “drink and horse”. We also find a lot of this when Foy is insulting Albert and follows up his joke with ‘Oh no I did unt’.
These references are never directed to another type of media or show, but rather sayings and ‘fads’ of our time. An example of ‘fad’ reference happens during the barn-dance when one of the announcers started making jokes about photographs and how he wishes he could use it to send ‘dick-pics’. On their own, these references aren’t that big and don’t deserve their own categories; but taken together these make up the majority of the film’s jokes.
4. Challenge Accepted:
If you’ve ever watched How I Met Your Mother, you pretty much felt Neil Patrick Harris’s mustachio’d character Foy was basically and old west version of Barney Stinson. Well if you thought that was a coincidence, then it have two words for you: “Challenge Accepted!”
Much like his mustache-less, HIMYM doppelgänger, Foy can’t resist a challenge. So when Albert challenged him to duel, was all too willing to proclaim “Challenge Accepted”.
3. Tarzan Boy:
When faced with death at the end of Clinch Leatherwood’s barrel, Albert begs for a few last words and to end on singing his religious death chant. This is all obviously a ploy by Albert to buy time for the snake venom to take effect on Clinch; but did you know that that yodeling chant was actually an 80s song. The song in question is Baltimora’s one-hit-wonder “Tarzan Boy”. There’s nothing else to really say about this one besides … listen and enjoy
Warning: It will get stuck in your head for a few days.
This day and age moviegoers are just conditioned to stay for the credits in case anything pops up. Sure this isn’t a superhero film; but I stayed and I’m glad I did – and hopefully you did too – because the reward was #2 on our list: Jamie Foxx’s gratuitous return as Django. That’s right, the gunslinger who stood for life, liberty and the pursuit of a hell of a lot of vengeance is back.
When we saw the ‘shoot the runaway slave’ game earlier in the movie, we got that good-ole “wow, I can’t believe they just said that” moment. So seeing Django come back at the end to blow that guy away made it all feel right. Also, if you stayed till the very VERY end of the credits, Django returned asking where all the white women were. Funny and unexpected, this reference was just great; but not as good as the #1 spot which finally gives us the 80s movie gold we were looking for.
1. Doc Brown:
The number one moment for this countdown in not only the most brilliant, but the saddest for me personally – and I’m sure a lot of you too. After Albert and Anna kiss, Albert stumbles upon Doc Brown from Back To The Future Part III. Now like the Django reference, there’s a slight discrepancy with the year – this film takes place in 1882, but Doc Brown was sent back to 1885. Regardless, this cameo was simply amazing, but there was still just one problem – and it’s the reason why this one makes me so sad.
Just before A Million Ways To Die In The West came out, some TV commercials and movie-theater previews spilled the beans on this cameo. When I first saw this, I was so happy and so angry at the same time. I realized that this was the perfect surprise cameo/cut-away ever – possibly even better than Flash Gordon in Ted –; but I was so upset that this had been spoiled for me. Flash was a total surprise for me with Ted, so I wish Christopher Lloyd’s cameo were also a surprise. Either way, this was the #1 reference/Easter Egg of the film.
Bonus. Mila Kunis is “Fine” :
One quick little bonus reference was during Albert’s time with the Native Americas when they were trying to get him to drink the hallucinogen. He finally agrees to their pushing by saying “Mila Kunis”. Now aside from being a reference to the actress who voices Meg in Family Guy as well as the female lead in MacFarlane’s prior film Ted, this is also MacFarlane’s commentary on Mila Kunis being good looking. The Native American translation for “Mila Kunis” is “fine”, which can be a clear reference to Mila’s beauty and the fact that she has been voted “sexiest” woman countless time. And that’s the story of how Mila Kunis came to mean “Fine”. Boom, two references in one!
So that’s it. Beyond the plethora of anachronisms, there were really only four full on ‘media references’ in A Million Ways To Die In The West. Or were there? Perhaps there’s one I missed. So sound off in the comments and let me know what you thought was a reference?