With a few good laughs, a few groaners and too many poop jokes, A Million Ways to Die in the West is a passably funny movie that suffers from the fact it was created by a comedic genius. 

Seth McFarlane, who created Family Guy and voices several of the characters, wrote, 3 starsdirected and stars in this movie as Albert Stark. Albert is a sheep farmer in 1882 Arizona, who loses his girlfriend Louise (Amanda Seyfried) when he chickens out of a gunfight. While he’s thinking about leaving town in shame, one night he saves the mysterious outsider Anna in a barroom brawl. They become good friends, and it seems perhaps they will naturally get together. But Albert doesn’t know Anna is married to notorious outlaw Clint Leatherwood (Liam Neeson), who has sent her ahead to the town while he cleans up some nasty business.

As Albert and Anna get closer, Louise moves on and begins dating Foy, played by Neil Patrick Harris in such a way that a slight wiggle of his perfectly manicured moustache can make you laugh. So Albert has two enemies, and the plot shows how he bumbles toward confrontations with each of them. Giovanni Ribisi and Sarah Silverman deliver big laughs as part of a great cast that also includes several unexpected cameos.

MacFarlane had a huge hit with his first movie, Ted, about a foul-mouthed Boston teddy bear. There aren’t nearly as many laugh-out-loud moments in A Million Ways to Die in the West, but it’s such a different kind of comedy, it’s like another genre. Ted, like Family Guy, relied heavily on references to current pop culture. There are Justin Bieber jokes, and Tom Brady is a character in the movie, which will seem incredibly dated in 10 or 20 years.

It’s a different kind of difficult to create comedy that isn’t bound to any particular era and will therefore seem as funny decades later. For example, the absurdity of Monty Python is as funny now as it was when the show aired in the 70s. People will always understand why it’s funny when a shopkeeper insists that an obviously dead parrot is still alive.

I’m not saying by any means that A Million Ways to Die in the West is the caliber of Monty Python. I’m saying in 20 years, there’s a good chance this movie will be funnier than Ted, which seems so much funnier now. And that’s simply because things like a man with a silly moustache pooping uncontrollably into a top hat will always be funny to some people.

Title A Million Ways to Die in the West
Director Seth MacFarlane
Runtime 116 min
Starring Seth MacFarlane, Charlize Theron, Neil Patrick Harris
Writer Seth MacFarlane, Alec Sulkin, Wellesley Wild
Production Bluegrass Films, Fuzzy Door Productions, Media Rights Capital, RGB Media, Reel Chefs Catering