‘I'm not in the mood for laughing,’ a grizzled gunslinger tells Seth MacFarlane's wisecracking sheep farmer Albert at the outset of this so-called comic western. He's come to the right film. Given an inch by the surprise success of his raunchy teddy-bear romp ‘Ted’, writer-director-star MacFarlane now takes a drastically overlong mile with a film that flatters his moderate talent and subzero leading-man charisma at every turn – right down to having his perfect-ten love interest (Charlize Theron) chuckle merrily at every one of his limp quips, punchline-free putdowns of Islam and Judaism included.
MacFarlane's principal joke – or sustained whinge, rather – is that Old West life sucks, particularly for shrimpy, entitled white guys like Albert sensibly dumped by gold-digging hussies like schoolmarm Louise (Amanda Seyfried). Albert sets about winning her back with the inexplicable assistance of enigmatic new gal in town Anna (Theron, her performance a loose, feisty lifeline), but little does he know that she's married to bloodthirsty bandit Clinch Leatherwood (Liam Neeson).
There's a lot of excrement – literal and otherwise – to wade through before that showdown, during which Albert finds his cojones, Anna reverts to damsel-in-distress passivity and Seyfried endures repeated gags about the size of her eyes. MacFarlane's doughy visage, of course, is beyond reproach.