On an opening weekend that was filled with “what you see is what you get…and nothing more” films, Seth MacFarlane’s Ted was no exception. That is not to say that it was a bad film. It was more like a 106 minute-long commercial for Boston with the feel of a live-action episode of “Family Guy”.
I found it surprising and slightly disappointing that MacFarlane chose to voice Ted with a Peter Griffin-esque style, as opposed to just being his natural Brian-like self. Mark Wahlberg is fine as the straight man to Ted’s obnoxiousness, and Mila Kunis (Lori) is equally fine as Wahlberg’s flame, but their performances neither shined nor faltered. They just…were. Joel McHale was a nice surprise as Kunis’ sleazy boss who persists as her unwanted suitor, and Patrick Stewart is always a welcome narrator, no matter the genre.
The plot, as you may have heard, consists of a boy named John who wishes for his teddy bear to be real so that he can finally have a friend when no one else will grant him that privilege. Naturally, in the style of Big, the teddy bear comes to life because John just happened to make his wish on a night wherein a shooting star occurs. Apparently, shooting stars possess magical powers.
The bear shocks everyone (including father Ralph Garman in a bit role) when he walks and talks, prompting the “honey, go get my gun” line that naturally follows. Child-like teddy bear, or “Ted”, then asks if it is a “hugging gun”. He then proceeds to mature with John throughout the opening credits. Fast-forward to twenty years later and the twosome pass much of their time smoking pot and watching Flash Gordon while commenting on pop culture and modern society. These carefree buds love each other with that irresponsible, frat-boy-brotherhood mentality that has become so prominent in today’s culture.
The predictable conflict arises when John realizes that he cannot lead a normal adult life until he can hold Lori, the love of his life, in a higher regard than his “bromance”. He knows that he must separate himself from Ted, but that’s difficult to do when they’ve experienced most of their lives together. Plus, the fun-loving, hooker-acquiring, trash-talking Ted is just too much fun to tell no. After all, he keeps getting bigger and better promotions for acting increasingly worse on the job.
The film worked just fine on that conflict alone. It did not need the last-minute subplot in which villain Giovanni Ribisi attempts to kidnap Ted for his spoiled brat son (Aedin Mincks). This seemed like a tacked-on idea and, like many other recent movies, could have shaved off some of its unnecessarily lengthy run-time. However, this sets up the ending of the movie rather well, so it’s not entirely for naught.
There are enough pop culture references in this film to sink a ship and plenty of pot-shots at celebrities we all love to hate, including Justin Bieber, Taylor Lautner and the widely despised Superman Returns film and its star, Brandon Routh. Ted definitely caters to fans of “Family Guy” with its brand of humor, although there were one too many anti-Semitic jokes for my taste. Particularly tired and offensive to some, I’m sure, was an Asian cliche that spiraled down rather rapidly into ridiculousness.
One scene near the end was particularly hysterical, though, which led me to believe that they saved their best joke for last. Familiar cameos are sprinkled throughout the movie, so you never know who will turn up and when. Ted is a good one-time watch, but if you’re looking to save a few bucks, pick it up as a rental. It doesn’t need to be seen on the big screen to be enjoyed.