Directed by Seth MacFarlane.
Starring Mark Wahlberg, Mila Kunis, Seth MacFarlane, Joel McHale and Giovanni Ribisi.
Years after his childhood wish comes true, a grown man finds himself saddled with a potty-mouthed teddy bear.
Seth MacFarlane is a man who comes with a pre-existing audience from his wildly successful show (that kept getting cancelled) Family Guy, and that audience will have already decided to see this movie even if it’s pants. The big question around Ted however is can MacFarlane bring in a new audience?
Several animators including Matt Groening, Mike Judge, Matt Stone and Trey Parker have all voiced their disapproval of McFarlane’s work in the world of animation and he has polarised viewing audiences, with some feeling he is a God amongst comedians and those who feel he actually doesn’t know what a joke is.
Before we get on to the review of his first soiree into live action filmmaking, I have to admit that I sit in the later camp of MacFarlane’s work. I am not a fan of American Dad and I think that Family Guy is about as funny as a wet fart but with that said, I do admit that I was greatly amused by the first red band trailer for Ted and was actually quite excited to see it.
So what can you expect from Ted? Well pretty much what you’d think from a movie written and directed by Seth MacFarlane. Foul mouthed-humour, plenty of pop culture references with an extra layer of crude just top it all off and the movie hits every one of those notes across the 106 minutes.
Ted is a very funny movie that had the audience I was in laughing so loud and so much that at times I missed follow-up lines of dialogue. As you would expect, Ted himself completely steals the show and provides a good 80% of the film’s laughs. Wahlberg is good in his role and brings an element of sweetness to the movie and is mirrored perfectly by the beautiful Mila Kunis. Giovanni Ribisi nearly steals the thunder from Ted in just a few short scenes as the evil and slightly off kilter Donny and his dance sequence towards the end of the film was one of my personal highlights.
One thing that reviews of Ted have not given the film enough credit for is the animation of Ted himself. In 2012 it sounds like having good CGI effects in movies should be a given, but his interactions with human characters and his natural surroundings are almost on par with genius work like Who Framed Roger Rabbit?.
That’s not to say the film is perfect. Sadly it does start to run out of gags and ideas as it nears the third act and it almost falls apart at the seams (no pun intended). I don’t think MacFarlane and his team had enough millage in a foul-mouthed talking bear to fill an entire movie and had to resort to cameos in order to fill screen time.
I would still argue however that MacFarlane needs to learn what an actual joke is. Just saying that Mark Wahlberg sings better than Katy Perry is not a joke (especially when the song he is singing wasn’t sung by Katy Perry) – they’re just words that when strung together are fairly funny. There is a huge difference between writing funny dialogue and writing actual jokes. He also may want to go back and re-watch Airplane! because he steals a scene from that something rotten and doesn’t even come close to it in terms of laughs. Some of his pop culture references will fall flat with UK audiences who aren’t up on their American celebs, and some fall flat because they simply aren’t funny. There does come a point in the movie where the pop culture references become tiresome and his shock humour attempts don’t always work.
Predictably, Ted has caused some outrage from several people and groups most notably Ken Forsse, the creator of Teddy Ruxpin, who said the movie has ruined “teddy bear values” and Lou Gehrig’s Disease foundation, who took offense to jokes being made about the illness. The line in question (again, not a joke) isn’t all that funny and is said 100% just for shock value, further proof that MacFarlane isn’t riding high when it comes to great writing.
Ted for me is a mixed bag. A lot of the film is very funny, it’s full of sweet and tender moments and the animation on Ted is outstanding. But the film does lose its way towards the end to become nothing more than an above average movie and some of its jokes simply aren’t jokes nor funny, which brings the film down a few notches. However if you are a fan of Family Guy or American Dad then I’d imagine this will have you rolling in the aisles with laughter. Like Kevin Smith, MacFarlane has an audience and he has played to that audience quite well but, again like Kevin Smith, will likely fail to bring in new fans with his debut feature.
Flickering Myth Rating – Film: ★ ★ / Movie: ★ ★ ★
Luke Owen is a freelance copywriter working for Europe’s biggest golf holiday provider as their web content executive.