Movie Review: Ted

 

Stars: Mark Wahlberg, Mila Kunis, Seth Macfarlane, Giovanni Ribisi

Rated R for crude and sexual content, pervasive language, and some drug use ,106 Minutes, Comedy

Compare to: 40 Year Old Virgin (2005) I Love You, Man (2009)

It’s tough to watch and/or think about Ted and keep Family Guy out of it completely. If you didn’t know, Ted is written and directed by the creator (and it seems most of the voices) of Fox’s most successful cartoon other than The Simpsons. I don’t know if I would have been able to catch certain similarities had I not been privy to that information, but I was, so I can do this review under no other pretenses.

Ted‘s not bad. Ted is not great. Ted won’t have your sides splitting with laughter, but if entertainment alone is the only thing you’re going for, and you don’t mind some of the most offensive language ever espoused by a two foot tall, computer animated sidekick, Ted might be your movie.

One Christmas night, in 1980’s Boston, eight-year old John Bennett wishes for his teddy bear to become real, like a lot of kids probably have. The difference is, is that this time, the wish works and “Ted” comes alive. After becoming an international celebrity, Ted still goes back to remain friends with John. Too good of friends, in fact. So good of friends that fast forward nearly thirty years later, and John is still hanging out with Ted and not much else. The biggest problem is that John’s girlfriend is starting to get tired of it. She wants John to grow up and move on without Ted, but letting go of your toys can tough, especially when they’re alive.

To criticize the film for its lack of originality in script is fairly easy. With exception of being an actual teddy bear, and all the jokes that go along with it, Ted is a slacker/buddy comedy, similar to many movies that features guys that don’t act their age while trying to figure out what growing up is all about, even if it means not hanging out so much. Many plot points can be easily seen way before they happen.  Predictability is not a friend, something Macfarlane and co. don’t seem to mind playing into. Though being a comedy, ultimately, story has only so much to contribute and the jokes are what matters most, needless to say. In that department, to determine the answer would depend on whether or not you care about Family Guy at all, because the comedy is very much the same.

The issue with Family Guy has become something of a mess, regarding story. Obliterated with cutaways and flashbacks, there is very little semblance of a story. Ted on the other hand has very little of these cutaways or very seldom do they branch off. When they do, it’s not for very long and it’s effective, not losing pace or leaving us wondering what’s going on anymore the way Family Guy doesn’t seem to mind doing. You can also see several cast emmbers of Seth Macfarlane’s shows throughout the film, including Patrick Stewart as the occasional rambling narrator which is really just funny whenever it does pop up.

Mark Wahlberg plays the main role of John, filling the shoes of a likable slacker who can’t let his buddy go, or at least not without a fight. When I say likable, I actually do mean likable. You want to see him do better for his girlfriend (Mila Kunis), and you do cringe when he messes up. I don’t mean likable in the way you’re supposed to think Kumar (of Harold and Kumar of course, 2004) is cool just because he says and does douchey things and gets away with it. Wahlberg plays a goofy car rental guy with little ambition the way he should be played- straight. We’ve already got a crass teddy bear as the main attraction, they did a good job of not making every single other character acting as stupid as they could have. Kunis does a good job here too, being the motivator in John’s life without coming off the slave-driving, witch of a girlfriend many actresses might have portrayed her as.

As for Ted himself, “divisive” comes to mind when choosing how to describe my feeling for him. Much like last year’s Paul, it’s a very seldom thing to be able to see the world from a bizarre, non-human character’s eyes in an “adult” movie. I guess making them vulgar is the only other way to go to not confuse them with a kid’s movie. But while Paul was a stoner on a mission who occasionally spouted lines about religion and poorly conceived earth rituals, Ted (voiced by Macfarlane himself) is content in doing absolutely nothing with his life. We’re not necessarily meant to like the things he does, so much as we are meant to find amusement in them, for better or worse. Often times worse. Many of his actions led me to think of Ted as that friend who casually offends you and then tells you it’s not a big deal after no damage to himself has been done.

In the end, we have a decent comedy. Thankfully, it never takes itself too seriously, many serious scenes ending with a fart joke or even an actual fart. Sometimes stupid things are just funny and you can’t help but laugh. Ted excels in this, but watch out for that Family Guy brand of “this is offensive to someone so it must be funny” comedy you’ll sometimes be exposed to.

Grade: C+

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