If you loved "Ted," Seth MacFarlane's comedy about a teddy bear with a potty mouth and an active sex life, you'll love "A Million Ways to Die in the West." It's another example of MacFarlane's ability to mix poop jokes with romance, foul language with sweet sentiment, offensive humor with boyish charm.
Not everyone will see it that way. After MacFarlane hosted last year's Oscars, his jokes -- about homosexuality, women's breasts and Javier Bardem's accent -- were criticized as evidence of a retrograde, chauvinist streak in comedy. There's plenty of that in MacFarlane's Western send-up, set in the unenlightened Arizona of 1882. For some, a fairground shooting gallery called Runaway Slaves won't be forgiven just because Jamie Foxx makes a cameo, and a needless joke about two mincing fops won't be ameliorated by the openly gay Neil Patrick Harris, here playing a mustachioed lady-killer. As for how the Indians are depicted, you can probably imagine.
That, however, might be missing the forest for a few unfunny trees. "A Million Ways to Die in the West" is so full of gross-out humor that it makes Mel Brooks' "Blazing Saddles" look like a Danny Kaye movie, but at its heart lies a rather tender love story. MacFarlane, who co-wrote, co-produced and capably directed, plays Albert, a sheep farmer spurned by Louise (Amanda Seyfried) for his inability to shoot, fight or otherwise assimilate into the violent West. The gorgeous Anna (Charlize Theron) comes along and bolsters his self-confidence, though she neglects to mention her gunslinger husband, Clinch Leatherwood (Liam Neeson). Sarah Silverman, as a local prostitute, and Giovanni Ribisi, as her boyfriend, provide most of the movie's crass sexual humor.
MacFarlane and Theron make an appealing couple, and we bond with them all the way. For MacFarlane's fans, the movie's mix of raunch and romance will score another bull's-eye. Others might find themselves in more of a hanging mood.
PLOT On the American frontier, a cowardly sheep farmer falls for a woman with a checkered past.
CAST Seth MacFarlane, Charlize Theron, Liam Neeson
BOTTOM LINE MacFarlane scores another bull's-eye with this mix of raunchy humor and aw-shucks heart.