Family Guy creator and Peter Brady-lookalike Seth MacFarlane makes a competent feature film directorial debut with Ted, the story of a man, his teddy bear, and that bear’s propensity for smoking weed, banging hookers and various profane utterances.
MacFarlane lends his voice to Ted, a standard-looking teddy bear blessed with the ability to speak and screw after his owner, John (played as an adult by Mark Wahlberg), wishes he could talk and be his best friend.
While most adults tend to put their playthings in the closet or give them to goodwill come adulthood, John simply grows up with Ted, and the two become pot buddies and lifelong slackers, much to the chagrin of John’s girlfriend, Mila Kunis.
One of the great things about the film is that Ted’s existence, after the initial and very funny shock expressed by John’s parents, is accepted around the world as no big deal. After a brief brush with stardom, his fame fades, and he’s treated like any other guy, with nobody stopping on the street and screaming, “Holy shit! A talking bear!”
When he proves to be a really bad influence on John, who keeps skipping work to share bong hits with the bear, Ted is forced to go into the real world by himself where he must get an apartment and a job. MacFarlane gives this element of the movie a consistent, absurdist feel that really works.
Mark Wahlberg plays straight man in goofy comedies with the best of them. Anybody who saw him with Will Ferrell in The Other Guys knows that Wahlberg has masterful comic timing, and MacFarlane puts it to great use. He trades lines with an imaginary bear with the best of them.
As for MacFarlane, he’s created something very memorable and very funny with Ted. Something that will probably be taken for granted is that Ted, besides doing and saying hilarious things, is a wondrous special effect. He’s an example of flawless CGI, a computer generated character that integrates seamlessly into the action. If the Oscars were held today, I would submit Ted in the special effects competition.
I’ve never been a big watcher of The Family Guy. I don’t have anything against it, I think Stewie is funny, and the Star Wars stuff is awesome. It’s just one of those shows I never seem to have time for. Still, I’ve recognized MacFarlane’s talents in the past, and believed going into Ted that I had a good chance of laughing.
What I didn’t expect is how sweet the movie is. MacFarlane takes the human elements of the story seriously, and they wind up being quite charming. It’s a major directorial feat when a first timer creates an animated teddy bear character that’s more well-rounded than most actual human characters in movies today.
For those of you simply looking for good, raunchy, super R-rated comedy, Ted has got the goods. There’s a scene with a roomful of hookers that will certainly go down as one of the year’s most memorable—and joyously disgusting—and the things Ted says during a job interview would curl a few clergymen’s toes.
A subplot involving a deranged Giovanni Ribisi—is there any other kind of Ribisi?—and his sicko kid stalking Ted gets some great laughs, especially when Ribisi busts out some dance moves while watching TV. I won’t spoil the tune to which he dances.
Given its box office success, I suspect this isn’t the last we’ll hear of Ted. The little bastard has franchise written all over him. I just did a search to see if there are any Ted teddy bears ready to purchase. Nope, somebody has dropped the ball on that one. There should be a talking Ted bear ready for me to by at Spencer’s Gift, right this instant!