Ted * * * 1/2
Director: Seth MacFarlane.
Screenplay: Seth MacFarlane.
Starring: Mark Wahlberg, Seth MacFarlane, Mila Kunis, Giovanni Ribisi, Patrick Warburton, Joel McHale, Matt Walsh, Jessica Barth, Bill Smitrovich, Bretton Manley, Sam J. Jones, Norah Jones, Tom Skerritt, Ted Danson, Ryan Reynolds.
Narrator: Patrick Stewart.
After many years of success with the hilarious animated sitcom “Family Guy“, it’s creator Seth MacFarlane finally ventures into his first feature film. It shares little in common with the aforementioned show except the same brand of lewd and crude humour, so any familiarity with that show will stand you in good stead in what to expect from this.
When John Bennett (Mark Wahlberg) was 8 years-old he wished that his beloved stuffed bear would actually come to life and never leave his side. One stormy night, his wish comes true and Ted (voiced by Seth MacFarlane) transforms into an actual walking, talking, bear. 25 years later though, John isn’t really moving on his life and his lifelong friend is getting in the way of John’s relationship with his girlfriend Lori (Mila Kunis). Decisions have to be made, which could separate their childhood attachment forever.
Now let’s be honest on this one and face the facts straight up; without the gimmick of a weed-toking, talking, teddy bear this film wouldn’t be anywhere near as successful as it is. The profanity of it’s cuddly protagonist is the very basis on which this film relies on it’s entertainment and for the most part, it works. The jokes don’t always hit the mark but on occasion it delivers some outrageously hilarious moments. MacFarlane seems to be aware, that the more you keep up a rapid fire of jokes the higher the likelihood of some of them sticking. He delivers a relentless fighting scene that will bring reminders of the long-winded dual with the chicken in recurring “Family Guy” episodes and the rest of the film is peppered with in-jokes to films and popular culture of the past, as well as incorporating “Flash Gordon” star Sam Jones in quite a prominent role that’s filled with self parody. Some of these jokes will be wasted on younger viewers or anyone unfamiliar with MacFarlane’s TV show but one thing’s for sure, the same brand of risqué humour can certainly be relied upon and the bonus of it coming in the form of an innocent, cuddly looking, teddy bear make it all the better.
The only drawback, is it’s stumble towards it’s conclusion where it succumbs to formula and loses it’s way slightly but it’s the performers that keep it consistently entertaining; Wahlberg is an actor I find it hard to warm to but he delivers some fine comedic work here and the always reliable Giovanni Ribisi adds just the right amount of darkness to the proceedings. Ultimately though, the star of the show is MacFarlane. His voice talents really bring Ted to life and his controversial and observational humour is ever present and welcome.
I wouldn’t go as far to call it comic genius but it’s certainly a lot of fun. Like it’s title character, embrace it and it’ll bring comforting rewards.