You may have come across a guy like Ted. He might be the high school friend who graduated with you 15 or 20 years ago. He is the guy who takes temporary residence on your couch with a bottle or the remote. He is the one who always has a great idea that would eventually bring trouble to you. Sometime, he also might be our special friend to rock things up, to prompt us that we’ve been stuck in a rut and need a new perspective. In Seth MacFarlane's "Ted", that special and annoying friend is a filthy-mouthed, pot-smoking teddy bear.
Ted is the debut feature film for writer-director Seth Macfarlane, who was the creator of animated TV show, “Family Guy," a traditional sitcom. Ted is not as ingenious or groundbreaking in ideas or humor as his small-screen work, but it displays his unique pop-culture sensibility. This could have been lot more satirical or hilarious, but there's also not quite enough material in the concept to fill a 100-plus movie. There are occasional bits of genius and great humor, which make it worth sitting through the dumb, and occasionally offensive, bits.
PlotTed (voice provided by Seth MacFarlene) surfaces in 1985, suburban Boston on the day before Christmas. John Bennett (Brett Manley, Wahlberg is the grown-up version) is the outcast of that neighborhood with no friends. One day he wishes that the teddy Santa brought for Christmas would come to life. John's wish is granted overnight and Ted becomes his only friend. Ted also becomes a mega star making the rounds on the celebrity circuit. Then the story fast-forwards to 27 years.
Ted is immature but mature enough into smoking copious amounts of weed and chase after various woman. John is in a dead-end job in a car rental place. He is still aimless whose extended adolescence is enabled by his equally juvenile stuffed animal. Issues arise in living with a teddy bear -- chief among them is the waning patience of his smart girlfriend, Lori (Mila Kunis). Lori insists that he should move on and break his bonds with Ted. They both can be buddies, but can no longer live in the same house. Ted moves out, finds a job in the supermarket, partying in the evening but John misses his good old buddy and is stuck in the middle.
AnalysisIf you have watched director MacFarlane's long running animated TV series "Family Guy” and its various iterations — you’ll know to expect cheerfully smutty gags. Seth's Ted just increases his usual verbal filth. Antisemitism, homophobia, bullied children, rape are a few of the targets of his shock jokes. It is remarkably offensive and the movie works not because of the funny gross-out jokes but because the two central relationships, between John and tough, tender Lori and between John and Ted, feel real — or real enough. MacFarlane scatters his gags and characters around that core. There are also some odd subplots, like the creepy bear-napper played by Giovanni Ribisi, which blocks the narrative from moving forward.
The computer-generated animation for Ted is done marvelously, and MacFarlane's voice is a funny counterpoint to the sweet-looking toy. Ted is so well depicted that it's easy to forget he's a product of motion capture-driven special effects. Wahlberg plays John Bennett naturally and he displays more chemistry with his fuzzy teddy than with his human love interest. Mila Kunis does hold her own in an otherwise happily male-dominant movie. The screenplay, especially the third act, shortchanges Kunis' character by an unconvincing change of heart.
Ted faces the same problem like any other comedy movie -- the inability to maintain comedic momentum over the full length of a movie. The plot is predictable, but the moments of inspired humor and the chemistry between a funny Wahlberg and his potty-mouthed bear is better than most A-list Hollywood pairings. "Ted" is the kind of guilty pleasure stuffed with so many slick cultural references and it's tough to catch them all, but it's fun trying. Ted's true genius is in the way its outlandish scenario is played so perfectly straight and it's best to simply forgive its bad behavior upfront.
Ted - IMDb