Seth Macfarlane. People love him, hate him, and everywhere in between. The brain behind Family Guy, American Dad, and Cleveland Show, his vantage point on comedy skews toward the pop-culture fused, rough around the edges families. From politically informed talking dogs, to alien house guests, to Russian talking bears, Macfarlane is no stranger to outlandish character ideas. Ted, Macfarlane’s first feature length director debut, can be seen as a full scale story for his normally side kick creatures.
The film begins in 1985 when little boy John is an outcast from the other kids, and so he wishes his teddy bear could be real and that they would be best friends forever. His wish is granted, and the scene continues to show us snippets of the next 23 years. The now living bear Ted (Voiced by Macfarlane in a VERY heavy resemblance to Peter Griffin) becomes a celebrity for a short time, but ends up becoming a weed smoking, profanity using, womanizing warped ball of stuffing. Ted and John (Mark Wahlberg) live together in an apartment with John’s girlfriend of four years, Lori (Mila Kunis). John is an affable underachiever who works at a car rental business while Lori has a career at a prominent publishers house in Boston. Ted continues to put strain on their relationship and new lines begin to be drawn on their living situation.
The big joke of the move – a raunchy doping teddy bear that can talk and drink – is the anchor for over 80% of the jokes. Many of the antics Ted causes have been done many times in other movies but it is almost as though Macfarlane said when he was pitching the script to producers, “It’s a teddy bear doing it tough! Get it?!” Just because an audience “gets it” doesn’t make it funny every time. Macfarlane’s flaw with this film is that he is so focused on the jokes that the plot and characters get pushed to the wayside in many scenes. There are a few jokes that are spot on hilarious, including a wild party at an apartment.
The acting side of Ted is believable and humorous at times. Mark Wahlberg did not have to stretch himself in playing a Bostonian. While he might not be doing anything big with his life, his girlfriend seems to put up with a lot of stuff just for him. Kunis shines as always in her role. Although it seems the script only allows her to convey either loving, ticked off, and just look pretty. We know she can really act (Black Swan) but she did well with the material given to her. For Flash Gordon fans, this movie will tickle you with one of it’s side plots involving Flash himself.
Ted is rated R for crude and sexual content, pervasive language, and some drug use. Despite the cutesy teddy as it’s star, it is not meant for children. Unless a parent or legal guardian is with them, they cannot get into this movie. I would go with this rating system on this one and leave the kids under 17 at home with their teddies.
I give Ted 3 out of 5 bottles of beer. While there are some jokes that are real gems, the rest seems half baked, or in the teddy bear industry – half stuffed.