You know when you saw the trailer for Ted and you joked about how it was just Family Guy on the big screen with a bear instead of a dog and Mark Wahlberg instead of Peter Griffin? Well, your joke was actually right on the money. Ted is what happens if you give the creator of Family Guy some impressive CGI animation, a bit of money and two of the best cameos we’ll see all year.
So if you’re not into Seth McFarlane’s brand of pop-culture referencing comedy or his not-as-smart fart joke comedy then just stop reading now. Nothing changed from the boob tube to the big screen except now you can see Mila Kunis instead of just hear her (a fantastic improvement). However, if you actually have a sense of humor and you lived through the 80s then might I suggest bringing a wet nap to Ted because you’re going to get pretty sticky rolling on the movie theater floor laughing.
Director: Seth McFarlane
Release Date: June 29, 2012
You’ve seen this all before either on Family Guy or in a romantic comedy/bromance. The difference is that when you take the smart writing of Seth McFarlane and cram it into a rom-com/bromance film what you get is a hilarious screenplay that lifts the standard story above its humble beginnings. You also get a talking teddy bear, which, when you dig past the film’s themes is the base concept of the movie. John Bennett (Mark Wahlberg) is a lonely little boy so one night he wishes that his teddy bear, Ted (Seth MacFarlane) is real. Lucky for him his wish comes true and Ted comes to life, becomes world famous and the two of them become best friends.
Flash forward 20 or so years and Ted’s star has faded, John is in a serious relationship with Lori Collins (Mila Kunis) and the two are still best friends. The problem is that John hasn’t grown up thanks to his ever loyal bear and Lori is getting a little tired of the hookers Ted brings home and the shits they leave on the floor. Cue drama between the very odd relationship triangle and you have your story. Toss in a hilariously disturbing Giovanni Ribisi as a stalker that wants to kidnap Ted for his son and you’ve got yourself a dramatic conclusion as well.
The hands down best parts of the film are when Ted and John are riffing on or with each other. McFarlane’s trademark humor easily shines through in an incredibly sharp screenplay that seems almost too smart for its own good at points, even when delivering fart jokes. Wahlberg and McFarlane (as a plush teddy bear) banter as if there was no script around and it’s non-stop funny, which is made even more impressive considering Wahlberg is talking to a bear that isn’t actually there. The jokes and punchlines are sharp and crude, pushing plenty of lines, but never going so far as to make you think they’re just doing it to be controversial. It’s the perfect balance that great comedies can achieve while lesser ones teeter into the trap of pandering.
The film does teeter a bit when it climbs out of the bromance box and starts hitting up the romantic angle between Lori and John. Kunis is actually impressively in step with Wahlberg and McFarlane, but just like Meg in Family Guy she’s usually just used to advance the plot to the next scene of Ted and John busting jokes. For the most part the teddy bear gag holds its ground as well, though it would be easy to tire of it if it wasn’t for the fact that most of the jokes don’t actually rely on Ted being a stuffed animal at all. Still, the screenplay could have been a bit more even throughout, and at one point McFarlane literally steals a parody of Saturday Night Fever from Airplane! (this one). Now, there’s no doubt he knows every pop-culture reference in the world so it was most likely intentional, but parodying a parody is just a bit weak.
Much like the often maligned Hot Rod, Ted might actually function better as a collection of hilarious individual shorts than a movie as a whole. There’s a story here, and it isn’t terrible, but its clear that the point of the film is to toss out the punch lines and comedy as quick and hilariously as possible. Thankfully, the screenplay stands up to this treatment keeping the film funny enough to hold together from beginning to end.
What Ted lacks in story it makes up for in all out comedy. McFarlane goes to town with the R rating and delivers almost every joke he’s been stopped from delivering on television. Unlike most films its insanely easy to judge whether or not a person should lay down money for Ted. Do you like to laugh? Go see Ted.