Rating: 5 out of 5 stars
Run Time: 1 hour 46 minutes, Rated R
Starring: Seth McFarlane (voice of Ted), Patrick Stewart (narrator), Mark Wahlberg, Mila Kunis, Joel McHale, Giovanni Ribisi, Sam J. Jones, Jessica Barth
Directed by Seth McFarlane (feature-film debut, creator of TV’s Family Guy)
We learn in Ted that there is nothing more powerful than a young boy’s wish…except for an Apache helicopter, I mean, those things are pretty damn powerful.
Ted is a fully original and adult take on a premise as old as time. Young John Bennett (Bretton Manley, or Mark Wahlberg as a grown-up) makes a wish one night that his teddy bear, Ted, could become alive and be his best friend forever. Be careful what you wish for.
The story picks up nearly 30 years later, and Ted is now the wise-cracking, pot-smoking best bud to the adult John Bennett, much to the chagrin of John's smokin’ hot girlfriend, Lori (played by the smokin’ hot Mila Kunis), who needs him to grow up and get responsible. Hilarity ensues.
Any fan of Seth McFarlane will have no problem absolutely loving Ted. McFarlane of course, is the creator and voice-actor for several Family Guy characters, not to mention The Cleveland Show and American Dad! to name but a few. His unique brand of referential comedy is lifted from his TV shows and poured all over Ted, as he shares a writing credit along with fellow Family Guy scribes Alec Sulkin and Wellesley Wild. Ted also marks his feature-film directorial debut, but by now he has mastered the impeccable comedic timing that has made his earlier works great.
One major difference is that on the big screen, McFarlane doesn’t have to worry about those pesky censors. Ted is R-rated and with good reason. It is rude, offensive, childish and somewhat abrasive at times, but never low-brow. Nobody is safe from his ridicule, with deep anti-religious themes being only one of the topics the film thumbs its nose at. In one scene, Ted tries to guess the “white trash” name of a girl and goes on to list almost every conceivable female name that there is. By offending everybody all at once, only the prudish of prudes should actually take offense.
Did I mention how funny Ted is? Ted is easily the funniest film thus far in 2012, if Seth McFarlane is your taste. The laughs come a mile a minute as they do in Family Guy, with countless references to pop culture ranging from the absurd (the film pays massive homage to the 1980 camp classic, Flash Gordon) to the obscure (any Tom Skerritt fans out there?).
It also may be the quintessential guy movie. It is a story about friendship, brotherhood and growing up…and getting laid, and smoking pot and playing video games and drinking beer. Mark Wahlberg is emerging as a very capable comedic straight man following his role in the hilarious and under-rated The Other Guys. Here he shares the laughs with Mila Kunis, and his talking teddy bear BFF. It’s perfect counter-programming on a weekend seeing the release of the female-aimed stripper movie, Magic Mike.
The best part of Ted to me was the nostalgia sewn throughout the storyline. When John gets Ted for Christmas in 1985, we see him tearing through a number of gifts that most 30-somethings will remember fondly. Much of the humor is tied to these subtle and many not-so-subtle pop culture references, so if you aren’t too knowledgeable in this area it is possible that much of Ted will fly right over your head.
Great minor characters round out the laugh riot, from Joel McHale as Lori’s sleazy boss to Giovanni Ribisi as a weirdo father intent on nabbing Ted for his own son. The lasting image of Ted is Ribisi drinking a cocktail and sensually dancing in his living room to a Tiffany video.
I must admit that I have somewhat of a man-crush on Seth McFarlane, much like John Bennett does for Sam J. Jones, star of Flash Gordon. That movie was heroic and self-important and downright silly. So is Ted. It encapsulates so much in such a preposterous story, it’s impossible not to admire. Ted becomes real, but the audience is always aware that we are watching a talking teddy bear.
The movie tells us that just like Corey Feldman, Frankie Muniz, Justin Bieber or a talking bear, eventually nobody will give a s***. That may be true, but for now Ted deserves to be mentioned in that instant-classic-comedy category. It’s a wish come true for anybody looking for nonsensical adult humor, or just something to do with the guys while the gals are watching Magic Mike.
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