Family Guy creator Seth MacFarlane brings his boundary-pushing brand of humor to the big screen for the first time as writer, director and voice star of Ted. In the live action/CG-animated comedy, he tells the story of John Bennett (Mark Wahlberg), a grown man who must deal with the cherished teddy bear who came to life as the result of a childhood wish…and has refused to leave his side ever since.
When Ted was first announced there were a lot of sneers about what would be Seth MacFarlane’s(Family Guy) debut film. What with the initial synopsis there were a lot of comparisons drawn between the plot for this film and other films such as The Beaver and Paul(Seth Rogen) and of course FX’s recent smash-hit Wilfred. Mainly because if you watched the initial trailer you got the sense that this was a story about a man and his pot-smoking teddy bear and that’s it. If anything the plots behind Beaver and Wilfred are probably closer to each other then it is Ted due to the fact that those brands are all about a messed up protagonist that is looking to find himself. Paul is a pot-smoking E.T. that probably deserves a better spot in the standard Seth Rogen affair, pretty much you knew what you were getting with that film.
Going by the first I would say 25 minutes there are a lot of similarities with Family Guy with those similarities tapering off as we get closer to the end but never fully shunned. Yes, we get cutaways but they were put there to better help give back story and show affinity for certain aspects of the character rather than a blatant interruption which is what the popular FOX animated series provides. The one thing you do see throughout the movie that is pretty similar to Family Guy is certainly the constant jokes at celebrities’ expense. Terrible actors such as Brandon Routh, Taylor Lautner, and others all get their comeuppance almost like an ode to every guy who has had to go to the movies to see shitty movies featuring some of those actors (how many of you poor souls out there had to sit through The Notebook or Twilight because of your girlfriend??) and giving them a voice. Also, similar to Family Guy a show that features a walking, talking, fucking, and pot smoking dog that evidently doesn’t feel too out of place in that show’s setting, Ted does the same thing where Seth kind of moves past the whole shock value that could come with introducing a bear into a live-action setting and instead establishes the universe very early on so that with the rest of the film we can just (for a lack of a better term)…play.
Ted is by far and away one of the funniest films of the last decade and certainly ranks right up there with some of the best and as such director Seth MacFarlane immediately vaults himself into a category of producers and directors that pretty much make the best comedies like Adam McKay, Jay Roach, the Farrelly brothers, so on and so forth. Having said that, the majority of those movie makers usually don’t do as good of a job in balancing a raucous comedy but also give a story that is very basic… a kid and his best friend are separated after 30 years of friendship. This is compounded with a plot that actually sees Ted getting kidnapped by a character named Donny and with this comes with it a sudden change in direction for the film turning it from a comedy into something with a bunch more heart than you might expect.
I saw this film in a sold out screening, the crowd was laughing uproariously but also Seth pulled them in a bunch of different directions that other comedy directors can not do. The crowd laughed and cried, cheered and applauded, and that is the magic that is Seth MacFarlane. He could’ve gone the easy way with Ted and just spend the whole movie having characters on screen shocked at the fact that there is a talking bear but instead he took on a challenge and delivered flawlessly. Are there some gripes with the film? Of course, I didn’t fully buy into Mark Wahlberg’s character and even in interviews he claims Ted is the funniest movie he has been in and he’s right but it wasn’t because of him whereas his role in The Other Guys Mark played a much more believable character and as a result was much funnier in that film.
In a role that potentially steals it had it not been for a CG-bear, Mila Kunis was stunning as Lori, as she didn’t really play the nagging girlfriend part but instead she plays a girl that puts up with a lot until she reaches a boiling point and as a result giving us a character that you can actually feel for. Giovanni Ribisi is another unsung hero as Donny, as he takes a character in a comedy film and totally comes out acting like Buffalo Bill as opposed to Joel McHale’s character who really at the end of the day just makes a long cameo.
Ted is well worth the price of admission and so far has been the only movie I’ve seen this summer that didn’t have 3D screenings that I actually liked. There really is something in that film for everyone, not just the Family Guy fan. The strangest thing that may come out of this film is that Seth MacFarlane very well might have dropped the whole “from the creator of Family Guy tag” and similar to a Steven Spielberg might have replaced that with “from director Seth MacFarlane”, and you can bet that I will be there to see it.