Ted Directed by: Seth MacFarlane Cast: Mark Wahlberg, Seth MacFarlane, Mila Kunis, Giovanni Ribisi, Joel McHale Running Time: 1 hr 45 mins Rating: R Release Date: June 29, 2012
PLOT: A 35-year-old Boston man (Wahlberg) must grow up or lose his girlfriend (Kunis), despite the bad influence of his bong-ripping talking teddy bear friend (MacFarlane).
WHO'S IT FOR?: This is for those who can stomach crass comedies, especially when they space out the dirty stuff (unlike Adam Sandler's That's My Boy). Ted touches upon new pop culture references, but has a special nostalgic spot for people who are Mark Wahlberg's age, and older. If you thought That's My Boy was a disappointment, you will probably love Ted.
EXPECTATIONS: The pieces were promising. Mark Wahlberg proved to be purely funny in the Will Ferrell comedy The Other Guys, and the concept of "Family Guy" creator MacFarlane trying out live-action film with a crass teddy bear sounded too tempting to miss.
Mark Wahlberg as John Bennett: Wahlberg uses his natural presence (Boston accent with muscles) to very effective comedic ends with John, a 35-year-old with his talking teddy bear as a best friend. Watching Wahlberg act well below his age appearance provides endless amusement with Ted, especially as this movie takes its own different stroll through the man-child storyline. Score: 7
Seth MacFarlane as Ted: He's a teddy bear that lives. How? Not important/miracles or whatever. Most importantly, Ted is a unique addition to the man-child type, providing a physical example of a man's hard-to-extinguish juvenile spirit. With frayed skin and big eyes, Ted certainly looks the part of our first best friend. However, with his consistently crass nature which is followed by less necessity to actually grow up, he provides a consistently funny portrayal of John's id. On top of this, Ted's presence very rarely feels unnatural, a credit to his co-stars and also the impressive motion capture technology that brings this unique kind of bro successfully to life. Score: 7
Mila Kunis as Lori Collins: As the third wheel girlfriend to Ted and John's brofest, (they won't even include her in on jokes, which is funny), Lori is the only hope John has to growing up. In this cliche role, Kunis provides some goofiness, especially working off Wahlberg. Kunis makes this role funnier and simply more than just a nagging girlfriend, but she's also a tool to this movie's cheesier moments, which she delivers with a straight face. Score: 4
Rest of Cast: Joel McHale gets a few laughs with his pompous boss who hits on Lori. In a moment of less obvious casting, Giovanni Ribisi plays a wacko stalker of Ted in a bizarre character that would easily fit into Sam Rockwell's recent choice of roles. Score: 5
TALKING: Patrick Stewart provides a funny voiceover that bookends the movie, while being infected by the pop cultural ADD rampant throughout Ted (such as when he trails off about Superman Returns). A lot of Ted's humor comes from its pop culture references, which are balanced with names both new and old. Joan Crawford is mentioned in the same script as Taylor Lautner, etc., with Jesus ultimately getting the most dirt kicked in his face. Not always coming with a sharp point to its jabs, the name-dropping of figures like Katy Perry can seem like weak "Oh no, you didn't!" attempts to shock modern audience members without actually drawing any blood. Score: 8
SIGHTS: Ted proves that once again Boston's Fenway Park is most photogenic ballpark to set a climactic moment in (because the nighttime security sucks, apparently). Though it must have been tempting (considering his structure in "Family Guy"), MacFarlane keeps his inclination for a random flashback/parody to a minimum, instead letting sequences breath like the flurry of well-written comedy bits they are. Score: 7
SOUNDS: Norah Jones performs an original jazz tune (with lyrics written by MacFarlane) called "Everybody Needs A Best Friend." Cheery orchestras chirp between certain scenes, to instill an innocent sitcom-like atmosphere on a not-so innocent movie. Later in the film, Wahlberg does a historic rendition of a James Bond theme song that is sure to have fans of the tune laughing (a fellow critic laughed for a solid minute after that sequence). And with all of the Flash Gordon references, of course they use bits from that film's awesome Queen soundtrack. Hell, even the "Thunder Buddies" sing-along performed by John and Ted is hilarious. Score: 8
BEST SCENE: I was extremely giddy to see Ted take its Flash Gordon admiration even higher than just a level of insistent referencing. It gets bigger and bigger, and then blows up into one of the best cameos we've seen so far this year, maybe even topping Johnny Depp's appearance in 21 Jump Street.
ENDING: Though it is slightly surprising, it's true to the movie's desired parameters of an R-rated shooting-star fairytale. And yes, it features another Flash Gordon reference.
QUESTIONS: How long until MacFarlane does another live-action movie?
REWATCHABILITY: I can only imagine that the jokes of Ted would still be funny in repeat viewings, especially when sharing this movie with different first-timers.
First-time director MacFarlane stumbles with his movie when he insists on keeping it as an R-rated fairytale. The romance between Lori and John which ultimately propels the change between all three main characters turns into cheese, and is conveyed to the audience with a smirk. A couple of parts of Ted are so cheesy that it's a wonder narrator Patrick Stewart doesn't make fun of the movie itself, or go on a tirade like he does with a certain comic book movie. Though you'll find yourself surprised to be caring about the life of a crass teddy bear, you probably won't care so much about his two human friends and their slushy drama.
A small miracle in itself, Ted provides a constant stream of hilariousness not often experienced in current mainstream comedies. From start to finish, as it works through its simple concept and unique take on arrested development, while also amusing itself greatly with Flash Gordon nostalgia, Ted reveals itself to be what "Massholes" especially would call "wicked f**kin' funny." Ted rejuvenates the "bromance" partnership, adding a Bostonian spin that saves Massachusetts from weak portrayals in the process.
FINAL SCORE: 8/10