Call this cowpoke comedy Blazing Saddles for millennials. Or just call it icky. As the bawdy hitmaker of TV's Family Guy and the film Ted, writer-director Seth MacFarlane gets a lot of that. Gags about farts, STDs and violent pooping inspire haters. But for all its hit-and-miss jokes, there are lots of ways to die laughing at this Western raunchfest. It's 1882, but MacFarlane, in his first major acting role (he usually sticks to voices), is every inch the modern smartass as Albert Stark, a wussy sheep farmer whose GF (Amanda Seyfried) dumps him for a fop (Neil Patrick Harris). Albert falls for newcomer Anna (Charlize Theron), but she's married to a scary villain, Clinch Leatherwood (Liam Neeson). Complications nearly get Albert killed. MacFarlane, following a trail blazed by Bob Hope, Mel Brooks and Woody Allen, plays himself, leaving the heavy lifting to others, notably a sweetly funny Theron. The surprise is how terrific the movie looks and sounds with its handsome vistas (that's the real Monument Valley) and Joel McNeely's rousing score. MacFarlane has an eye and a feel for Westerns. A bonus if you're only in it for shits and giggles.
From The Archives Issue 1211: June 19, 2014