“Ted” follows a similar formula to other buddy movies of its kind. There are two major things that distinguish the film though. For starters, “Ted” is a really funny movie, producing just as many laughs as “21 Jump Street” from a few months ago. Secondly, one of the buddies in question is a living teddy bear.
The teddy bear is not merely a product of someone’s imagination like in “Calvin and Hobbes.” He’s literally a walking, talking stuffed animal that has been casually accepted into society.
The story begins with some hysterical narration from Patrick Stewart, who introduces us to little John Bennett. The eight-year-old John is a lonely boy without a friend in the world. When John tries to join the neighborhood boys as they beat up a Jewish kid, they all turn him away. Even the victimized Jewish boy thinks that John is too lame to help beat him up. Then one magical Christmas morning, John receives a teddy bear and names it Ted. John wishes that his furry friend would come to life so they could play together. The next morning, John awakens to find that his wish has come true.
John and Ted grow up to be the best of friends. Ted becomes a sensation along the way, making appearances on the news and Johnny Carson’s Tonight Show. Like most child stars though, Ted’s fame soon begins to fade away. He grows up to be a drunken slacker, voiced by Seth MacFarlane, that spends most of his time on the couch with a bong by his side. Ted’s still best friends with John, played by Mark Wahlberg, who is also having difficulties growing up. They spend most of their time sitting around and recollecting movies from the '80s, most notably “Flash Gordon.” Imagine adult, raunchy versions of Christopher Robin and Winnie the Pooh.
Seth MacFarlane has made a name for himself through animated programs like “Family Guy” and “American Dad.” In addition to voicing the title character in a Peter Griffin-like accent, MacFarlane also directs and co-writes “Ted.” The film offers the exact kind of humor we have come to expect from MacFarlane. “Ted” can be stupid, shocking, random, offensive and completely irrelevant. On the whole though, the film is simply one big laugh after another.
One of the most amusing aspects about MacFarlane’s comedy is the fantastic CGI animation used to create Ted. The teddy bear is funny just to observe, whether he’s crawling into bed, driving a car, drinking a bear, or having sex. How Ted manages to have intercourse is a bit of a mystery though. Ted is also a lot of fun to listen to, always with a great one-liner ready. One can only hope a Ted plush toy that sings his thunder song is in the works.
The other performers are top-notch as well. Mark Wahlberg is solid as a straight man who never acknowledges how ridiculous it is that he’s talking to a teddy bear. Mila Kunis is lovely and fun as Lori, John’s incredibly patient girlfriend who wants Ted to move out so John and her can move on. Joel McHale even manages to put a likable spin on the jerky guy who wants to bang Lori. The only character that is a little off-putting is Giovanni Ribisi as a creepy guy who wants to kidnap Ted. Yet, his character does amount to an exciting chase sequence and some humorous cracks regarding his chubby son.
The film that most resembles “Ted” is “Paul,” which was about another outlandish, crude CGI creature who forms a bond with men-children. That movie was funny, as is “Ted.” Those who are turned off by the politically incorrect humor of “Family Guy” probably won’t be won over by MacFarlane’s directorial debut. As someone who still watches Animation Domination every Sunday though, I can safely say that this is a well-made, well-written comedy about the unyielding struggle to put away childhood things.
Nick Spake is a college student at Arizona State University. He has been working as a film critic for the past seven years, reviewing movies on his website, NICKPICKSFLICKS.com Reach the reporter at firstname.lastname@example.org