Seth MacFarlane is an acquired taste.
There are those who will have to catch their breath in between bouts of laughter while watching his new film 'A Million Ways to Die in the West,' and there are those who will be repulsed by the rude, cartoonish comedy. But we all know those who wrinkle their nose at fart jokes are just refusing to admit they found it funny.
“A Million Ways to Die in the West” is MacFarlane’s attempt to make the jump from just being a farcical voice off camera (think 2012’s “Ted”) to a bona fide actor.
MacFarlane plays Albert Stark, a sheep farmer who lives with his parents amid a sweeping Arizona landscape in 1882. When he’s not talking his way out of gunfights or dodging rattlesnakes, he’s pining away for Louise (Amanda Seyfried). But, she dumps him - and with the most classic line of them all: “I need to work on myself.”
Albert is heartbroken.
He's also convinced he’ll be killed by cholera or Indians.
With some coaxing from friend Edward (Giovanni Ribisi) and his girlfriend/popular local whore, Ruth (Sarah Silverman), the trio make their way to the saloon for drinks. It’s during that outing we meet Anna (Charlize Theron).
In an attempt to escape the melee of an alcoholic brawl, Anna predictably ends up in Albert's arms. But what Albert doesn’t know is that she’s the wife of the most notorious gunslinger in the West - Clinch Leatherwood (Liam Neeson).
Anna takes a liking to Albert and offers to help him prepare for a dual against Louise’s new love interest, Foy (Neil Patrick Harris), in an effort to win her back.
Foy, a pompous proprietor of a “moustachery,” doesn’t miss a chance to rub it in anyone’s face, literally.
Over a week’s span, Anna, an expert marksman, coaches Albert to improve his confidence and aim.
You can guess the plot thickens when Anna’s husband shows up, fueled by rage when he learns his wife was spotted kissing another man goodnight.
I won’t give away who wins the final gunfight(s).
Thrown in are a few horse races across the plains, bellowing Western tunes, a daring escape on a train, dialogue about tumbleweeds, a weird psychedelic drug trip in the dessert, and a country fair (where the big attraction is getting your picture taken, but watch out, it could kill you).
The movie’s reliance on raunchy references and some gory death scenes, not to mention showing Foy pooping in a hat, seem to poke holes in what could actually be a worthwhile western romance.
But without the shots of sheep penis, the death of a man by his own farts, misogynist references, and a fun cameo by Dr. Emmett Brown from “Back to the Future,” … it wouldn’t be a MacFarlane project.
This is the guy who sang “We Saw Your Boobs” at the Oscars, after all.
Bottom line: The West really can be won with fart jokes.
Rating: 5 out of 5 stars for MacFarlane die-hards, 1 out of 5 stars for MacFarlane haters.