Published Jun 28, 2012If you're familiar with golden-voiced filth magnate Seth MacFarlane's creative properties (Family Guy, American Dad!, etc.), you'll have an idea of what to expect from Ted, and you won't be wrong.
The story of a young social outcast who wishes upon a star for his teddy bear to gain sentience so he'll have a BFF, and then grows up to be an emotionally stunted, underachieving burnout is crammed with all the hallmarks of a MacFarlane production: scatological humour, shocking sexual crudity, casual drug use, violent slapstick, winking racial insensitivity, affectionate '80s references, hearty celebrity mocking and a general irreverence for all but the most romantic of sentiments.
Like his contributions to the cartoon world, the results of his slapdash approach are hit and miss, but by taking more shots than Michael Jordan playing with a fever ('90s references have their place in this world too) the gut-chuckle to indifferent smirk ratio ends up well in the black.
The jump cuts so integral to the pacing of MacFarlane's humour actually relate to the story in Ted, if only because of the frankly silly insistence that this be structured like a typical romantic buddy comedy. Co-writing, as well as directing and voicing the smutty, titular plush toy, MacFarlane literalizes the man-child syndrome populating so many mainstream comedies as of late.
Thirty-five years old and in a committed, long-term relationship, John Bennett (Mark Wahlberg, making a welcome return to the deadpan comedy he so effectively employed in I ♥ Huckabees and The Happening) still can't let go of his childhood touchstones: watching Flash Gordon and avoiding responsibility to get baked with his best friend.
John's girlfriend, Lori (Mila Kunis, saddled with the straight role), after years of fun and understanding, as depicted in an introductory aging montage that also shows Ted's rise and fall as an '80s icon, much like Tiffany or Corey Feldman, gets caught up with the idea of what a man should behave like and aspire to. However, she fails to realize that this would make her beau more like her rich, sleazy boss (nobody does smarmy douche-bags better than Community's Joel McHale), who she clearly finds repulsive.
Growing up, accepting responsibility and making sacrifices to build a new life with your partner are the issues at play, but the closest thing to a revelatory notion is the idea that forcing a person you love to change is usually just self-serving B.S. When all's said and done, Ted is too tied to traditional Hollywood storytelling to rain down the extreme levels of delightfully despicable shock and awe MacFarlane's animated endeavours revel in, and isn't brave enough to cast its cynical eye upon its obvious shortcomings.
That's not to say this isn't funnier and nastier than 90-percent of mainstream comedies though; it is a movie featuring a simulated teddy bear facial and a hooker defecating on the floor, after all. (Universal)