(Universal, Getty Images)
The Bottom LineShould you see it?
Ted is a filthy dirty little bear, but a hilarious one.
Okay, so Ted
is not a dynamic comedy. There is nothing intellectually hilarious about it, but that doesn't mean it's not hilarious. Fans of Family Guy
creator Seth MacFarlane
should flock to his first live action feature, the film was made for them. Featuring no less than 300 fart, shit, and piss jokes, the term "scatalogical" does not begin to do the film justice. It is beyond filthy, and the movie's chief filth-mongerer is an ultra-cute, plush teddy bear... hence the film's glorious risk. To create a Howard the Duck
redux so to speak, one must be fearless (or galactically stupid). MacFarlane is nothing if not brave, as his envelope-pushing sense of humor has proven and he is the perfect vessel to bring us a film of this fuzzy wuzzy ilk.
begins with a sonorous narration by Patrick Stewart
who explains the joys of Christmas and how one friendless little boy named John Bennett made a fantastic wish that his stuffed teddy bear (Zane Cowans/Seth MacFarlane) come alive and talk to him. When the wish comes true, John runs to tell his parents (Ralph Garman
and Alex Borstein
) who shine him on until the bear appears in the doorway, pleased to meet them. Horrified, the parents leap onto the counter before Mom chalks up the miracle to God's work, saying Ted is just like baby Jesus.
MacFarlane, a proud atheist, wields Ted like a rancid uzi of political incorrectness, taking aim at Christians, gays, Jews, Muslims, everyone, in a fantastic barrage that challenges Sacha Baron Cohen
's The Dictator
for the year's most offensively pleasing comedy. Not only that, Ted rips bong hits, blows lines of coke, and drinks very heavily. He is MacFarlane's perfect muse, a tornado of every bad thing in the universe paradoxically stuffed into a cuddly bear.
Most of the reason why Ted works is the way the bear was designed. MacFarlane followed Matt Groening
's (The Simpsons
) lead of drawing expressionless 2D animated characters on Family Guy
and he does the same thing with Ted
. The bear's eyes are dead and the eyebrows don't move. Unilke Pixar or Disney-animated characters, who are drawn to be human essentially, Ted looks like a stuffed animal the whole way through, and that makes it very funny when he reacts or doesn't react. Another reason he works is MacFarlane's decision to put Ted out into the world. Frequently in movies like this, the fantasy friend is imagined or only one person can hear him speak. Ted is very much real and even becomes a celebrity for a short time - it's fantastic watching him walk around and interact with strangers.
The two human stars of the film, grown-up John (Mark Wahlberg
) and his girlfriend Lori (Mila Kunis
) drive the narrative when Lori insists John grow up and lose his "thunder buddy" Ted. The bear is forced to move out on his own in the city of Boston and Lori's plan backfires when the two best friends spend more time together than ever. Wahlberg gives a solid comedic performance as John, playing him as a ultra-friendly dummy who is torn between his great girl and the friend who made his childhood bearable... no pun intended. Kunis is a fine comedic actress, but not here. Her Lori is a smart successful business woman and her few comedic scenes feel a bit forced.
MacFarlane peppers the film with his usual amount of pop culture references. Nobody loved growing up in the '80s more than this writer/director and he force-feeds us his love of nostalgia the same way he does on Family Guy
. The opening Christmas montage displays awesome '80s toys (Nintendo, a Darth Vadar Collector's Case
), there is a heated (and inevitable) reference to Teddy Ruxpin
, and the film features a laundry list of celebrity cameos, most prominently Tom Skerritt
and Sam J. Jones
, the star of the live action Flash Gordon TV series.
I won't spoil the film's other cameos and co-stars here, but they are legion and only add to MacFarlane's twisted random sense of what's funny. It's all part of the fun of Ted
and these characters and references do well to provide ancillary laughs, but the fuzzy little bear stays front and center. MacFarlane's tale slips into silly melodrama at times to push the story but there's more than enough big laughs to keep Ted
well over the Mendoza line of kitschy crap comedies. Howard the Duck
eat your heart out.
See more photos of Mark Wahlberg and Mila Kunis: