TED Review

As a fan of absurd and ridiculous comedy I was looking forward to Ted with hope of it becoming more than just an excuse for a cuddly creature to talk dirty and smoke pot. I wasn't overly anticipating the film though as I'm not a fan of Family Guy. Not because I don't like it or the type of humor it relays, but mainly just because I haven't seen too many episodes. I've seen a few and what I've seen I've liked well enough, but never got excited about it or necessarily understood what the hype was about. Still, Ted looked to be right up my alley. A rough around the edges comedy with a touch of satire and a flair for pop culture references where only a seasoned vet of the Hollywood culture might catch them all. Turns out, where many movies this summer have let us down and not lived up to the hype with which they garner so easily early on, Ted stays on track with my expectations and delivers on every level I needed it to in order to be happy with it. I had a ton of fun watching it and was pretty much laughing every scene, multiple times. It feels a bit long in the middle and as the conclusion draws near writer/director and actor Seth McFarlane falls into the trappings of his conventional story with underdeveloped aspects of the script coming into play too late in the game, but it isn't the story that needed to work for this whole thing to succeed. What needed to work was the relationship between our two leads, that a middle-aged man and a teddy bear could have a real, honest friendship and thank God for Mark Wahlberg because he throws himself into this crazy world and makes it feel as smooth as a baby's bottom.

John (Mark Wahlberg) and Lori (Mila Kunis) try and have
a civil dinner with John's best teddy bear friend.
As far as story is concerned though the film starts out as if it were a classic kids Christmas film filled with wonder and magic. We see John Bennett (Wahlberg) as a young boy who is a lonely kind of loser that wishes his teddy bear to life so he can share his childhood with someone. Lucky for him, the magic of shooting stars was available that night and grants him a wish. Teddy, the actual bear becomes a media sensation and explains how people on the street take so easily to him. There's also a great little bit where they incorporate Ted onto the Johnny Carson show a la Forrest Gump shaking the presidents hand. Eventually though, as McFarlane points out with examples such as Justin Bieber, everyone moves on to the next big thing and stops caring. The story tells of what happened after Ted and his owner have passed their prime and are now in the lulls of day to day life where they still room together and remain the best of friends. A serious girlfriend has been thrown into the mix in the form of Lori (the always appealing Mila Kunis) and she has been more than patient with John as his journey to adulthood has been halted by the bear and their seemingly care-free lifestyle of drinking and smoking while watching Flash Gordon. It reaches the point (after four years of dating no less) for Lori to put her foot down and for John to kick out the bear. Apparently this wasn't enough of a conflict to sustain the film because McFarlane throws in a subplot that features Giovanni Ribisi as a creepy dad with a chubby son who have been obsessed with Ted and want to take him away from John. This ultimately leads to a climax that is unnecessary and forced whereas it could have simply been the three main characters figuring out their place in the world without losing any excitement and certainly being more ballsy.

Ted (Seth McFarlane) and John party it up at Ted's
apartment with a childhood hero.
As I said before though, as much of a disappointment as the last act of the film turns into, never does the relationship between Ted and Wahlberg's John falter. The story is second string anyway so despite it not holding up its end of the bargain, it doesn't sway my overall opinion of the film as much had the central relationship not been as funny and convincing as it is. It is essentially an Apatow production that goes the extra step of putting the unbelievable factor in. Never would an Apatow production include a talking teddy bear, his shtick is that the comedy comes from real life, stuff that people can relate to thus accepting the crassness and rudeness because it also has a heart. The same thing could be said about this film. It simply follows another mans shtick. McFarlane has carved out his place in Hollywood by giving seemingly innocent things a rudeness and crassness and he continues with that formula here. He,a s well as the more than willing Wahlberg, pull off what is almost seemingly impossible by making the audience believe it would be a hard choice when deciding between a teddy bear and Mila Kunis. Going back to the fact that because this friendship works, so does the movie. This buddy comedy with a dilemma is nothing new but McFarlane sprinkles his script with enough 80's pop culture and movie references as well as celebrity cameos that we really come to love the characters for the losers that they are. They are an enduring group of guys who relate in plenty of ways and succeed in telling a story of a guy who is essentially being held back by his friend. It is a negative influence that one part of the three person love triangle is trying to do away with. I loved that Mila Kunis was game for this, because she just gives off that vibe that she is the coolest chick out there and in reality is probably the only one who could have pulled this role off with such a ridiculous premise.

Writer/Director and Actor Seth McFarlane brought Ted
to life through motion capture technology while
also providing the voice.
Unexpectedly, Ted is one of the funniest movies I've seen this year. I almost enjoyed it every bit as much as I did 21 Jump Street, but I watched that the other night again and it still carries the edge. That's not to say I won't be getting Ted when it comes to blu-ray in a few months. It is definitely a comedy I will want to watch over and over and what more do you really want out of a comedy than that? I was laughing constantly from the great opening where Patrick Stewart narrates as if this were a new, updated version of some Christmas classic to the absurd credit shots that give us the explanation of what happened to the rest of the characters in the film. Everything here is a send up, and no celebrity is off limits. The best part is that most celebrities don't mind taking shots at themselves for a good laugh. Norah Jones doesn't, Ryan Reynolds definitely doesn't and did Joel McHale show up just because he is that good at playing a tool? I guess so, because his extended cameo serves up some of the better lines in the film. We get a few actual fart jokes that feel at least more honest than any cartoon could make them, but ultimately they lend to the bit of slacking in the script that seems to grow more apparent as the film goes on. In the end though there really isn't much to complain about. The movie surprised me with how good, how funny, and yes, even how heartfelt it turned out to be. I may not be a faithful McFarlane follower, but his next project will definitely carry more anticipation on my part. Here's to an R-rated feature about a drug dealing princess.