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Is Seth MacFarlane The New R-Rated Comedy Guru?

Are people out there still watching Family Guy? I mean, they must be right? Otherwise, why would they continue to produce new episodes, especially when so many new shows are dying at the hands of TV executives. Maybe it’s just been popular for so long that the network is too scared to let it die. Let’s be honest though, Family Guy is just not what it used to be. Sure an episode will come along and it can partially justify why you ever liked it in the first place, but for every awesome episode, there are a dozen really unfunny episodes and maybe another half dozen okay episodes.

Seth MacFarlane is reaping all the benefits though. His show came back from the dead with a vengeance and now it’s on almost every single channel available. The creative mind behind the animated hit also has a new focus in the realm of cinema, and no pop culture icon past or present will ever be safe again. MacFarlane first introduced the world to a foul mouth teddy bear, Ted, who reminded everyone of a fuzzy little version of Peter Griffin. Ted was a massive success at the box office, raking in over $200+ million domestically plus another $300+ million in the foreign ticket sales. So obviously it won’t be the last time we see the stuffed pot smoking, Flash Gordon loving bear.


The reason though I ask if MacFarlane is the new go-to guy for R-rated comedies is because the new trailer for A Million Ways to Die in the West recently popped up online, and it’s actually pretty funny. The film has a hell of a cast, boasting actors like Charlize Theron, Liam Neeson, Amanda Seyfried, Neil Patrick Harris, Giovanni Ribisi and Sarah Silverman. MacFarlane himself is starring in the film which is not going to help anyone steer away from the overly abundant Family Guy influence of the comedy. Family Guy‘s propensity to have something horrific happen followed by someone screaming, “OH! THAT WENT CRAZY SO FAST,” or something of that nature, is essentially set to take the place of, “That escalated quickly,” from Anchorman. And that’s not all the film seems to be borrowing from.

MacFarlane’s delightfully ridiculous hit show leaned heavily on pop culture jokes, and I can’t imagine we shouldn’t expect the same here, even if it is technically a period piece. A Million Ways to Die in the West, as funny as it looks, doesn’t feel overly original even outside of its Family Guy influences. Take the relationship of almost any buddy comedy, the gimmick of every Final Destination film except in the Wild West, and with more comedy, and finally throw in the Family Guy sensibilities. Blend it all together and you have this film. I could be wrong, and it could be that the trailer is just trying to appeal to all those Griffin family lovers still out there. Maybe it is indeed a recipe for success, at least for now.

The rise of the R-rated comedy has been steady over recent years. Todd Phillips was the go-to guy for a time, at least until he started recycling his own material over and over and over again to the point that audiences grew wise to the formula of The Hangover. Ted certainly felt like a changing of the guard, and with A Million Ways to Die in the West on its way it definitely feels like we are preparing to be steeped in the reign of Seth MacFarlane as the king of R-rated comedy for however long that lasts. Kevin Smith gave it a run there for a while, though his films never reached the success that Phillips did with The Hangover, MacFarlane with Ted or even Paul & Chris Weitz with American Pie.

I’d say MacFarlane has competition from the likes of someone like Judd Apatow, but his recent films like This is 40 and Funny People don’t feel like straight up comedies so much as dramas with a hefty bit of comedy thrown in for good measure. The only other duo I think could challenge the filmmaker at this point would be Phil Lord and Christopher Miller. and those guys have a background in family comedy. Lord and Miller of course are known for their work on family flicks like Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs and the upcoming LEGO Movie, but they are also responsible for the hugely popular 21 Jump Street reboot and the upcoming sequel 22 Jump Street. As popular as 21 Jump street was though, it still has to look up at Ted which stands atop every R-rated comedy of the last decade.


So to answer my own question, yes, I think Seth MacFarlane is the new go-to R-rated comedy guru. I don’t want to pat myself on the back prematurely, or at all for that matter, at coming to this conclusion. We still have to wait and see if A Million Ways to Die in the West is even remotely as successful as Ted, but at this point I’m going out on a limb and saying it will be a hit, if maybe just not as big a hit as Ted. MacFarlane’s talking teddy bear, for all its raunchy dialogue, didn’t have the violence his new film will likely feature, plus Ted had an unexpected heart at the end of the day, and that’s something I also don’t think A Million Ways to Die in the West has going for it. Only time will tell though as A Million Ways to Die in the West opens on May 30, 2014.

What do you think of the trailer for A Million Ways to Die in the West? Who do you think is or should be the R-rated comedy guru? Thoughts on Seth MacFarlane? Sound off below!