Director: Seth McFarlane
Starring: Mark Wahlberg, Mila Kunis, Seth McFarlane, Joel McHale, Giovanni Ribisi
Written by: (and story) Seth McFarlane, Alec Sulkin and Wellesley Wild.
Running Time: 106 mins
Release date: 1st August 2012
He’s cute. He’s cuddly. And he has the foulest-mouth you will ever hear. He’s Ted, Seth McFarlane’s latest creation and his first big screen venture, a one-joke comedy about a 35 year-old man and his drug-fuelled, potty-mouthed, sexed-up best friend, a short, dumpy teddy bear. The thing about this one joke is that it actually works longer than you expect.
John was never a popular kid at school and so his parents buy him a teddy bear. After wishing he was alive, Ted does exactly that, first to the horror of his parents and then becoming a minor celebrity, even appearing on the Johnny Carson Show. Years later, John has grown up, has a mediocre job at a car rental store and is dating way out of his league, Lori. Ted, however, is still in his life and after four years of a relationship between the adults, Lori wants more than just a boyfriend but is John grown up enough to commit? Or will Ted always be there, leading him astray.
McFarlane’s feature debut as director, co-writer and the voice of the bear gives him more opportunity to be outlandishly offensive than his hit cartoon series Family Guy and he doesn’t hold back. Nothing, it seems, is sacred when it comes to comedy and what pours out of Ted’s mouth. He says and does things that would turn a nun’s hair white! He even goes all-out to be offensive to a manager of a supermarket Ted is reluctant to work at but fails miserably. This is one film that, if you are easily shocked, it might be advisable not to see.
What McFarlane manages to do is make this run for a whole 106 minutes and while not all the gags work, a large proportion of them do. He also has thanks to Mark Wahlberg for that as well. Proving himself a few years back to have some comic talent in The Wrong Guys, here he is allowed to shine as John, the sci-fi geek with a passion particularly for the 80s film Flash Gordon. He is never upstaged by McFarlane’s cheeky creation and holds his own well. One scene, in which John is rattling off names of girls is hilarious. Mila Kunis also does a good job as Lori, mainly the straight guy to the two males but she copes with it well. It’s a pity Community’s Joel McHale isn’t given more to do but he makes an impression when he does appear as Lori’s egomaniac boss, while Giovanni Ribisi is effectively creepy as the man who wants Ted for his obese son (and a nice gag is thrown in at the end about what happens to him).
The film is filled with references to pop culture, from the countless sci-fi nods and even a tip of the hat to Airplane! (never seen a parody of the greatest parody before). The main bulk of the laughs come in the form of John’s liking of Flash Gordon and this is a wildly successful trump card for McFarlane as he manages to get Sam J. Jones, THE Flash Gordon to appear.
The gags are good if incredibly crude and while all the sex talk, swearing and drug-taking is thrown about without a care in the world, the film genuinely has a a heart and the ending is surprisingly touching. This, I feel, is the film’s strongest part, that no matter what happens, you think you are going one way and then he sends you off somewhere else. (For example, you will never believe which singer Ted was suppose to have a liaison with!)
The CGI of Ted is excellent and the interaction between Wahlberg and the bear are the high points of the film. The fight in the hotel room is not only violent but very clever as friends go head-to-head.
At the heart of it all, this is a film about friendship, no matter in what way, shape or form and it’s a film that might not be politically correct, it might set out to shock but it does it in a way that never gets boring, never gets to sentimental and never allows itself to get too serious either. We are expected to believe that a bear can walk, talk and have sex on the products in a supermarket and we go along with it. It might not be the funniest film of the year but it will certainly make you smile and any film that has Patrick Stewart swearing like a trooper while doing the narration gets a big old thumbs up from me!