Director: Seth MacFarlane
Writer: Seth MacFarlane, Alec Sulkin, Wellesley Wild
Starring: Mark Wahlberg, Mila Kunis, Seth MacFarlane, Giovanni Ribisi, Jessica Stroup, Patrick Warburton
Country: United States
MPAA Rating: R
Time: 106 minutes
Genre: Comedy, Fantasy
USA Release: 6/29/2012
On DVD (USA): 12/11/2012
What do you get when you take an ordinary teddy bear, a child’s wish and Seth MacFarlane? It’s simple a foul mouth, drug taking, party loving bear named “Ted”, who sounds a little like Peter Griffin. In his feature-length directorial debut, MacFarlane brings some of his “Family Guy” cast members along for the ride while voicing the title character in this hilarious but somewhat familiar story about best friends.
Told though the narration of Patrick Stewart which has the tone like something from a Dr. Seuss story we are told the magical story of Ted. As a child John Bennett was very lonely growing up in Brockton, MA in 1985. Never able to make a connection with any of the neighborhood kids he sets his sights on the large teddy bear he received on Christmas, naming him Ted. That night thinking about his lack of friends, he makes a wish that Ted would come to life and be his best friend for life. The next morning to his surprise his wish came true. Soon the whole world is caught by surprise as Ted becomes a household name practically over night, but as the years passed things changed. Now in 2012 John (now played by Mark Wahlberg) is 35, he has been in a four year relationship with Lori Collins (Mila Kunis) and everything seems to be going pretty well, except Ted (voiced by Seth MacFarlane) is still around. Not that Lori has a huge problem with Ted, it’s just that his life long friendship is getting in the way of John growing up. Case in point, the man is still fiercely afraid of thunder and needs his “thunder buddy” Ted to stay calm.
What Seth MacFarlane accomplishes with “Ted” is the same thing he has been doing on his animated series “Family Guy” since the beginning, delivering fast, fresh and hilariously told stories that include brutal little pokes at the expense of everyone and everything in pop culture. From the beginning of the film to the end there are references to Flash Gordon (Sam J. Jones) and his movie, Corey Feldman, Taylor Latner among many others. And like with any MacFarlane show, you can expect tons of raunchyness in the form of hookers, drugs and parties to be in heavy rotation, but that is what makes the film all the more fun. And while MacFarlane has a great sense of timing and establishing his shots to keep the story moving, “Ted” seems to find itself at times getting slowed down by a couple of out of place characters and storylines. For instance (without giving anything away) because this is a standard buddy comedy there is a conflict between the two which can be over just about anything. MacFarlane’s conflict isn’t an absurd one like they can sometimes be but the way it goes for the second half of the film is heading for predictable. But I have to give some credit to MacFarlane for adding the underlining storyline that keeps things just far enough away from reaching total predictability.
Like many directors, MacFarlane seems to have his all-star cast in the form of some of his regular cast members on his shows, as many of them even if it’s just for a couple of scenes are used. And even though it seems like MacFarlane choose the perfect cast for his debut, I think some actors were unnecessary or misplaced. Of those actors there is really only one and that’s Joel McHale and while I think he is a good comedian I really didn’t like him in the role of Rex who is Lori’s boss. I thought that he was trying too hard at times to make his lines work the way he wanted them too. And I could not stop picturing him doing his show “The Soup”, I didn’t feel like he was playing a character just playing himself. As for Giovanni Ribisi, he was totally great in his role as Donny the crazed Ted obsessor although his role is a bit obvious, but I am curious to see how he would have done switching roles with McHale but more to see if McHale would have been better suited for that role instead, no way to know for sure. Anyway like I was saying about Ribisi he is always a joy to watch whether it be in action, comedy or drama he has a knack for it all and can always be counted on to deliver a great performance. For Aedin Minck who played Donny’s also crazed son Robert, he did a pretty good job, definitely had me a little on edge, can definitely improve but not a bad start.
As for the main cast; Mila Kunis like in her previous roles on “That ’70s Show” and “Forgetting Sarah Marshall” has a great sense of timing and delivery even though she doesn’t get a lot of chances to show that. She’s not just a pretty face and can probably hold her own against some of the great comedy actors, I mean looking at the guest stars on “That ’70s Show” she already has. And she has also proven herself a fine dramatic actress as well. And like though her voicing Meg on “Family Guy” has already come to have great comedic chemistry with MacFarlane and that really shows along with her chemistry with Wahlberg. Speaking of Mark Wahlberg although he doesn’t seem to be a total fit for the role he does his best. He plays the type of character i.e., super stoner party animal pretty well, his comedic skills unfortunately didn’t blow me away. The most fun I had was watching him get beat up by a teddy bear and singing his “thunder buddies” song. Although Wahlberg is a pretty good actor especially in action, he probably wouldn’t have been my first choice for the role. Not only was he too old, I mean he tries his best to look 35 but let’s face it we all are not fooled, his comedy is minimal at best. I’m not sure who I would have chosen but obviously someone better at comedy. That only leave Seth MacFarlane voicing Ted and like I said before he sounds an awful lot like Peter Griffin. Anyway like with his characters on “Family Guy” MacFarlane’s dialog and actions are the take no prisoners kind, saying and doing what he wants no matter what. And with Ted he does the same thing, nothing is too much for Ted whether it be hookers, drugs, you name it and Ted does it. Of course all of the best lines and scenes are through Ted seeing as he his the title character. And like with Kunis, MacFarlane has a great sense of humor and really great timing. Although the story takes a little bit of a serious turn, the comedy is kept up by Ted.
Overall, “Ted” is a fantastically entertaining frenzy of comedy from the mind that brought you “Family Guy”. MacFarlane takes the typical buddy comedy and puts a spin on it, adding tons of raunchy dialog and gestures to keep you laughing the whole way though. While there is some predictability to it and tiny casting problems, it’s definitely something that everyone can enjoy especially those who are already fans of MacFarlane.