Film Review: Ted
Ted, the feature-film directorial debut from the Emmy-winning Seth MacFarlane, is not a 100-minute re-hash of Family Guy as many may be expecting. Sure, it certainly draws elements from the show: relentless pop culture references; various Family Guy veterans such as Mila Kunis and the show’s composer Walter Murphy creating the film’s score, but do not be fooled. There are moments in Ted that would even make the crass Griffin family blush. But the film has a deeper meaning rather than being just a simple gag reel.
This is a (predictably told, but always highly entertaining) simple story of a man, John (Mark Wahlberg), who is torn between two important figures in his life: Ted (MacFarlane), his teddy bear that magically came to life when he made a wish as a child; and Lori (Kunis), his girlfriend of four years. She needs serious commitment from John and she wants him to aim higher in life, whilst Ted persuades John to spend most of his spare time smoking pot, drinking beer and watching DVDs. These two represent two sides of John’s life that he needs to finally address: his lingering immaturity and facing his long-overdue adult maturity. John cannot seem to live without either, but the two seem to clash frequently. The internal struggle John faces is a very real one that resides in many adults, even though it is presented in a very symbolic and hilarious manner. This makes it all the easier for us to relate to John, well portrayed by Wahlberg, whose chemistry with Kunis is utterly believable and likeable.
The film is a mad ride, from the surreal world of Flash Gordon to the nasty truth-or-dare game with prostitutes to high-speed car chases – and it’s all laugh-a-minute (even though one or two gags don’t quite hit). The humour is lewd and crude: fart jokes, sex gags et al. Ted steals the show with his fantastic one-liners, and the supporting cast – such as the quietly creepy ‘biggest fan’ of Ted’s (Giovanni Ribisi) and hilarious narration by Patrick Stewart – also offer great laughs.
The special effects work on Ted the bear himself are absolutely brilliant, and one could almost believe there was a real walking-talking bear on the screen (seeming almost seamless between the prop bear). Even for an object like a teddy bear that is given a stiffness and a permanent expression, MacFarlane’s team bring him to life with all the animation, imagination and love that an 8-year old boy would have. Then they let him swear and curse like a sailor.
The wildly silly Ted is not a revelation in comedy (having seen the same situation several times before in comedy films such as You, Me and Dupree and Shaun of the Dead), but it is a sharply written, smart piece of film that will guarantee big laughs and wide grins.