[Review] – Ted

4 Jul

Title: Ted
Year: 2012
Director: Seth MacFarlane
Writers: Seth MacFarlane, Alec Sulkin and Wellesley Wild, based on a story by Mr. MacFarlane
Starring: Mark Wahlberg, Mila Kunis, Seth MacFarlane, Giovanni Ribisi, Jessica Stroup, Patrick Warburton, Joel McHale, Laura Vandervoort
MPAA Rating: R, crude and sexual content, pervasive language, and some drug use
Runtime: 106 min
IMDb Rating: 7.8
Rotten Tomatoes: 68%
Metacritic: 62

I’m a Family Guy fan. It’s a show that even when it misses at least it’s very damn entertaining, and when it hits it really hits and is just all kinds of fun and hilarious. A lot of it has to do with the show’s creator, Seth MacFarlane, a guy who started animating shows for Hanna-Barbera in the 90’s before he created Family Guy, took it to Fox and created his animation empire there, with the network also running The Cleveland Show (which I also watch) and American Dad! (which I don’t), both co-created by Mr. MacFarlane, and the former being a Family Guy spin-off.

The man is, as you might imagine, a pretty busy guy, spearheading three primetime shows at the same time, for which he also voices a number of the characters. And yet in 2011 he also found some time to record an album, Music is Better Than Words, that displayed his huge love for American standards, something that fans of his shows may have already been aware of. That was his side project last year, and now this year he’s showing us another one: his feature-length directing debut with Ted, the comedy that just scored a huge $54.1 million opening weekend at the box office, an opening weekend record for an original R-rated flick (The Hangover Part II and Sex and the City did better, but they were based on existing properties).

So I went into Ted with high expectations; audiences seemed to have loved the film (or at least responded very well to its great marketing), and this was Seth MacFarlane, a guy with a humor that I loved no matter how many people found it offensive. And I’m glad to report this one’s just terrific, and right up there with 21 Jump Street as the funniest film of the year. Yes, the way this plot moves is kind of familiar and the script is uneven at times, but the fact of the matter is that the general concept is still great and it works, and what matters most is that the film is absolutely hilarious any way you slice it.

That general concept which I think is so damn great and funny apparently was thought by Mr. MacFarlane when he was thinking about those many family-friendly movies in which a kid wishes that his favorite toy or something came to life. Except Mr. MacFarlane wanted his vision of the story to begin after the regular iterations of it ended; with the kid now being a thirty year-old, and the toy still being alive kicking it with him. Mark Wahlberg plays John, the kid who’s now a grown-up, and Mr. MacFarlane uses his famous voice to bring Ted, his beloved stuffed teddy bear, to life.

The results are truly hilarious. This is a bear that’s also grown-up now and not the cuddly little thing he used to be, instead he’s a foul-mouted individual with pretty R-rated tendencies, and he’s of course preventing John from really growing up, much to the dismay of Lori, played by the beautiful and hilarious Mila Kunis, who also voices a Family Guy character, who wants the bear gone so that she can start a real life with John. The mixture of CGI with live-action works, as Ted is truly a great creation animation-wise as well as because of the voice of Mr. MacFarlane, and Mark Wahlberg once again shows a killer comedic timing while playing the straight guy in ridiculous situations, as anyone who has seen The Other Guys can most certainly attest to.

This one opens with Patrick Stewart (another Family Guy and American Dad! alum) providing a narration that, were it not for the actual language he uses, is totally reminiscent of old Christmas family movies. Telling us about John and how unpopular he is at school, and how one Christmas when his parents give him this big teddy bear he wishes he could have one true friend for life, and the then the teddy bear speaks and agrees. And so Ted and John become best friends for life, and Ted, given that he’s a living teddy bear and all, enjoys his 15 minutes of fame which are then over and he proceeds to smoke weed with John at their house and dabble in prostitutes and alcohol, obviously.

The one-liners spoken by Ted are just the kind that leave you breathless from all the laughing. It’s also the kind of humor that you see in Family Guy, so if you’re one of the many prudes that think that show’s totally dirty and childish then by all meanings go ahead and avoid Ted, because it’s just that but for an extended period of time here. Another thing it borrows from the Family Guy DNA is the fact that it uses pop culture references to score some huge laughs. I won’t spoil the hilarious moments here because I would be robbing you of too much fun when you get to see this one.

Ted is one of the funniest movies of the year, both in terms of acting and in terms of writing, and it really is a superbly smooth transition by Mr. MacFarlane both from the TV world to film as well as from the animated realm to the live-action one. This is a man that’s just supremely talented, and extremely busy as a result, but that I really want to see tackle more feature-length material like this, maybe even something more off his comfort zone next time, because I think he has the chops for it, and because his comedic voice is too unique for me not to want to hear more from it.

Grade: A-


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