Taylor Lautner, Apache attack helicopters, Tom Skerritt, and Flash Gordon (the cheeseball 1980 movie)… it takes a special breed of person to make a movie that offers up not just jokes about each of them, but gut-busting laughs. Seth McFarlane does it in Ted, and he does it so perfectly well.
Writing and directing not only his first full-length movie but also his first one involving actual human beings, the man behind Family Guy proves he’s far from a one-trick pony.
Ted begins outside Boston in 1985 with eight-year-old loser Johnny Bennett making a wish on a shooting star that his new stuffed teddy bear could talk. When he wakes up the next morning, his wish has come true– freaking the crap out of his parents but also giving him a friend for the first time in his life.
Twenty-seven years later, both have grown (chronologically, though not in maturity) and Ted (voiced by McFarlane) and John (Mark Wahlberg) spend their days smoking pot and watching Spongebob Squarepants in their apartment. And yes, society at large knows all about the talking teddy bear. McFarlane shows us Ted was actually a bit of a celebrity for a while, including a visit to The Tonight Show with Johnny Carson. But, as with all fads, the world eventually stopped caring.
Stuck in the middle of all this is Lori (Mila Kunis), John’s girlfriend of four (long) years. After John picks Ted over her one too many times, she issues an ultimatum– John needs to make a choice between her and the bear.
Buy tickets online for Ted at Essex Cinemas and Cumberland 12.
There are subplots galore, including Joel McHale’s winning stint as Lori’s skeevy boss and Giovanni Ribisi as a perfectly psycho fan of Ted’s, but the heart and soul (and yes, there are both) of the movie is the relationship between a man and his profane, crude stuffed animal with a Southie accent.
McFarlane takes advantage of the big stage to brilliantly skewer just about everyone and everything in today’s pop culture world. And he throws in some spot-on random cameos, too, to up the humor even more. The comedy is terrifically un-PC and, frankly, a welcome change from the sophomoric (hello, Adam Sandler) and silly (hi, The Three Stooges) stuff that seems to pass for humor these days.
Credit also to Wahlberg, who dives into the role head-first and is content to play straight man to his fluffy buddy.
Ted flounders a little toward the end as things veer off in an odd direction, capped with a climactic scene at Fenway Park, but there’s no denying that overall, Ted will leave you rolling in the aisles.
Where else can you find yourself at a party with Flash Gordon himself, along with an ill-tempered duck, some cocaine, and bad Hootie and the Blowfish karaoke?
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@popcollin is the resident movie critic at Essex Cinemas in Essex, VT, and Cumberland 12 in Plattsburgh, NY.