TED ( 2012 ) – The Review
A trend amongst feature film directors seems to be a lot more common today. I should specify live-action feature film directors, in that many of the makers of animated features are going on to direct real flesh and blood actors. This is not new since one of the most prolific comedy directors from the late 40’s through the mid 60’s was Frank Tashlin, who directed several short cartoons while a regular at ‘ Termite Terrace ‘ , the home of ” Looney Tunes” and ” Merrie Melodies “. Recently, the results of this big jump have been mixed. The mastermind of several Pixar smash hits, Brad Bird, scored with MISSION IMPOSSIBLE : GHOST PROTOCOL, while another Pixar alum, Andrew Stanton, was at the helm of one of this year’s most notorious flops, JOHN CARTER. And now, stepping into a new arena, is Seth MacFarlane with TED. He’s not made any feature films before, but for the last several years he’s been one of the kingpins of Fox TV animation in prime time with three shows currently in production. Will this new venture attract his rabid TV fan base?
Ted plops us right down into a snowy Boston suburb on Christmas Eve 1985. The next day, youngster John Bennett makes a wish. He wants his favorite present, a cuddly, stuffed bear ( who squawks several different pre-recorded phrases when squeezed ), to come to life and walk and talk on his own. And the next morning the toy, Ted , does just that ( much to the shock of John’s parents ). When word leaks out Ted is a worldwide sensation. But fame is fickle and fleeting. Spring ahead to now. John ( Mark Wahlberg ) is a wage slave at a car rental office with a girlfriend of four years, Lori ( Mila Kunis ) who works at a PR firm and fends off the advances of her lecherous boss, Rex ( Joel McHale ). Oh, and John still has Ted ( MacFarlane provides the modern-day toy’s voice ). When Lori’s away they spend hours sucking on a bong, gobbling up handfuls of dry cereal, and watching their favorite flick, that 1980 cheesefest FLASH GORDON. But now, Lori’s fed up with their antics. John and Ted have to split up and live separately or she’s outta’ there. Will John finally grow up? And how will a talking stuffed bear make it on his own? And what about that creepy single dad, Donny ( Giovanni Ribisi ), who’s determined to give Ted to his equally creepy young son?
Sounds a bit like a TV daytime drama, doesn’t it? Well I wasn’t surprised when Macfarlane revealed in an interview that Ted originated as a TV series idea several years ago. Several sequences play out as weekly plots ( ” Ted gets a job “, “Ted throws a party”, etc. ), so the storyline is a bit disjointed. I didn’t mind this because when the jokes hit, the movie is gut-bustingly funny. Be forewarned, Ted revels in its vulgarity, but unlike the recent THAT’S MY BOY, the crudeness is presented with flair and style, and…wit.The actors seem to be having a great deal of fun along with the audience. Wahlberg has matured into one of the movie’s most likeable leading men. Good to see him use his comic chops after a delightful cameo in DATE NIGHT two summers ago. Kunis is her usually enchanting, lovely self after elevating last year’s wan FRIENDS WITH BENEFITS. Macfarlane shows his great comic timing as Ted tosses off one great quip after another. And he’s assembled some great familiar TV faces to support the leads, such as Patrick Warburton and Matt Walsh with McHale building on his smarmy small screen persona. Ribisi even scores some chuckles as the film’s big villain ( seems just yesterday that he and Wahlberg faced off in CONTRABAND ). The film could use a good ten minute trim as MacFarlane indulges some of his TV show gag set-ups ( a too long, brutal bare knuckle brawl and, earlier, recreating a classic movie scene -the original’s one of the great movie parodies, so it’s a satire of a satire? ) and a drawn-out final chase, but the stuff that works may have you spilling out into the aisle. TED is a rowdy, coarse, but endearing screen debut of one of the major voices of pop culture today. They may wanna’ check out that talkin’ bear, but please, please leave them kiddies at home! That toy may look cute and cuddly, but TED has got a pretty sharp bite!
Overall Rating: 4 Out of 5 Stars