NOT YOUR AVERAGE TALKING TEDDY
By Dan Kester
Director Seth MacFarlane finally spreads out his rated R wings. That’s not all he is spreading it seems, as he releases and provides the starring voice for his new comedy, Ted. But does this movie land on a falling star, or is this one wish that should have never come true?
The story opens with Patrick Stewart reading a monologue about the movie’s leading man, John Bennett, as a young boy played as an adult by Mark Wahlberg. It sets the tone for the entire movie with the comedy style that fans of hit shows like Family Guy, American Dad and The Cleveland Show have all come to know and love: completely irreverent and typically hilarious. At the tender age of eight, Bennett wishes that his new teddy bear, Teddy, voiced by MacFarlane, would come to life so that they could be friends forever. Sure enough, his wish comes true and before long Ted becomes a celebrity but stays best friends with Bennett.
As with all life, they get older and we get to see them as adults. John meets and falls in love with Lori, played by Mila Kunis. As with most stories, it becomes difficult for the man to choose between the friend he has had since he was a child and the love of his life. The key difference here is that best friend just happens to be an irreverent, drinking, smoking, sex having stuffed toy. What is so great about the movie is that the far-fetched premise is done in such a way that you never feel as though it’s completely ridiculous or implausible. Ted, through some great effects and convincing voice work, is made out to be no different from any other character in the movie. He has hopes, dreams, and even engages in a physical relationship with a co-worker. And the audience never has time to ask things like, ‘where does the beer go when he drinks it?’ or ‘what is the point of him having sex if he… well, is a stuff bear?’
Perhaps the only real flaw with this movie is the way in which it attempts to handle the two main points of conflict in the film. There was already enough there for either to be good for a stand-alone film, and having the two of them together makes one take away from the other. Although both the obsessed fan subplot does work and is very entertaining, it tends to take away from the impact made on the primary plot of the film. There are some who have already attempted to pigeonhole this movie as a “stoner comedy” while others are writing it off as merely an extended episode of Family Guy.
Sure, there are aspects of both in this movie, but to put the movie into specific subgenres truly belittle everything that this movie is and does. The timing of each joke is completely spot on; the verbal jokes are done with a rapier like wit and perfect sarcasm whereas the physical humor is done in either impeccable context to the rest of the movie or given additional sound effects that increase the hilarity. What’s even more impressive than the comedy of the film is the onscreen chemistry between the characters. You can actually feel the bonds of friendship between Ted and John, and legitimately feel for them in the face of tragedy. There is palpable romance between John and Lori. All of the relationships and all of the dynamics presented are completely fluid, natural and entertaining.
Ted is not a movie that is going to appeal to everyone; there are some raunchy scenes and references that should make this for adults only. And with John and Ted’s favorite childhood idol being Flash Gordon, it is a reference that is going to be lost on most Family Guy’s core audience. That being said, it is by far one of the funniest comedies of the last decade. The timing is perfect, the characters are thought out, and each step of their journey feels complete by the time the credits roll. Anyone who is a fan of rated R comedies and witty banter will be sure to be left in stitches after seeing Ted.
Watch the trailer.