Starring Mark Wahlberg, Mila Kunis
Directed by JSeth Macfarlane
When I walk into a movie like Ted, I truly have only one requirement: It needs to make me laugh. If it does that, then I can forgive the shortcomings the movie will have in other departments. Fail to make me laugh, well those shortcomings become so glaringly obvious, so frustratingly irritating, the movie suddenly becomes your mortal enemy. Ted is also a movie that comes with caveat and his name is Seth MacFarlane. Macfarlane has his fans, devoted ones in fact and he also has just as many critics who have no problem calling him talentless.
I don’t consider myself a fan of MacFarlane’s and save for the first 3 or 4 seasons of Family Guy; I’m not a huge fan of the show. Ted is pretty much a two hour episode of Family Guy: Mark Wahlberg is Peter, Ted is Brian and Mila Kunis is Lois. If you’re a huge fan of the Family Guy, then you just might find yourself enjoying the Ted experience. But what about guys like myself, is Ted going to succeed in winning me over and satisfy my one requirement of just making me laugh? Will I get my just desserts Seth Macfarlane?
The premise of Ted is simple enough; a young friendless John Bennett gets a stuffed teddy bear for Christmas and wishes the bear would come alive so he could have a friend. BOOM…the bear comes alive. Ted (voiced by Macfarlane) gains some popularity because he is a talking teddy bear, but with flame a fleeting thing, the movie cuts to 18 years later and shows Ted and John (Wahlberg) sitting around watching TV and getting high. Ted lives with John and John’s prototypical too good to be true girlfriend Lori (Kunis). John wants to grow up, be more of an adult and spend the rest of his life with Lori, but he’s constantly harangued by Ted and Ted’s frat house ways.
Simple enough right? So now the main function of the movie is to make me laugh. But the problem with Ted is it relies too much on the shock value that seeing a teddy bear get high, curse and party with hookers is good enough. Those laughs only go so far. You have a movie with a walking talking teddy bear, the possibilities are endless. But Ted doesn’t use those possibilities, instead putting the titular character into this bubble of shock and awe and leaving him there. Don’t get me wrong, a couple of the jokes hit their mark and they each got a huge laugh out of me, but it leaves you wanting more.
The movie tries to expand it’s scope of possibilities. It tries with the relationship between John and Lori, but their development never reaches anything beyond your standard rom-com storyline. Both Wahlberg and Kunis are charming enough and Wahlberg actually plays really well off of Ted, but I really didn’t care about them. The story also has Ted getting his own apartment (after Lori gives John an ultimatum regarding their relationship and Ted’s involvement) and a job at a grocery store. Unfortunately in the end, all of these opportunities are squandered as is the subplot involving Ted being kidnapped, that one they should have left on the cutting room floor.
Ted also hangs it hat on a ton of 80’s pop culture and Star Wars references, which is fine…in moderation. But the movie feels content to live in that nostalgia. Believe me when I say this movie could’ve been comedy gold, but Macfarlane and crew obviously felt too content to push themselves into making an edgy, offbeat comedy involving a talking teddy bear living in the real world. Watching a teddy bear smoke pot and talk and curse like a sailor has its value, but when that’s all you have, the movie loses its charm real fast. I won’t call Ted a disaster, but I won’t call it entertaining either.