Running Time: 106 minutes
Starring: Mark Wahlberg, Mila Kunis, Giovanni Ribisi, Joel McHale
Directed By: Seth MacFarlane
Rating: 4 out of 10
A man must choose between his talking teddy bear and his woman.
South Park creators Matt Stone and Trey Parker famously ripped on the cartoon Family Guy a few years back. They said the show was riddled with cheap easy gag jokes and that they hated it. I still felt/feel that Family Guy is a really funny show and I am a huge fan even though it is not so called “clever” in some comedy circles. Now we find ourselves in the present with this movie titled Ted directed and written by Family Guy creator Seth MacFarlane. I would really be interested in a review from Stone and Parker if they do watch this film because their assessment of Family Guy then is bang on with this movie now. Ted is the story of a loner kid named John Bennett. He wishes that his Teddy Bear (named Ted) could talk and magically that wish comes true. They become best friends and do everything together. Shoot many years into the future and they are still best friends but John has been dating a girl named Lori for the last 4 years. John and Ted’s friendship is putting a strain on his romantic relationship with Lori and something has to give.
This was one of the movies I most wanted to see this summer outside of the typical blockbuster actions and it was a total let down for the most part. The movie starts off with the simple back story with John Bennett as a kid. A short scene of him making a wish and his teddy bear coming to life has the movie off to the right start. After that we find John and Ted as adults and the film lacks both storyline and decent joke selection to pull this movie off. Ted the bear is a foul mouthed, drug smoking, sex maniac with Peter Griffin’s voice from Family Guy. I like the voice of Peter Griffin so although it was a cheap tactic to use this voice for Ted it still is awesome. I also thought Ted was animated very well in this so you actually never are thinking to yourself this is ridiculous for some reason. Because Ted is so realistic you are able to appreciate the story more. The story itself is a mess though. It has no depth to it and because the jokes are at points terrible you cannot help but notice how bad the story truly is. John courting Lori, a woman way out of his league and Ted getting in the way is painfully thin and obvious. When obviously that turns out to be not enough depth a creepy and strangely placed bad guy named Donny comes on to the scene to provide unneeded plot developments.
John played by Mark Wahlberg was a good fit in this film. He plays the down on his luck stoner character quite well. Matching him with Ted the stuffed animal voiced by Todd McFarlane and they have an easy and carefree friendship. They have chemistry together and it allows for easy banter and hilarious situations to unfold. Unfortunately they have not the best of dialogue to do it with. Girlfriend Lori played by Mila Kunis is also a seamless fit as the straight laced but very understanding girlfriend to John. She fits into John’s life perfectly in this and seems like she is having a good time doing it.
My favorite two characters in this film were creepy Donny played by Giovanni Ribisi and Rex (Lori’s Boss) played by Joel McHale. They both had small supporting roles but actually added a lot to the film. I found them funnier than the leads even though their characters were strange additions to this movie.
Bottom line is I am pretty sure you know going in what you are going to get with this movie. If you don't know it is replete with pop culture references from the 70’s until the present. It will add a liberal amount of pot use and an excessive amount of cursing to get the laughs. While there are some scenes that will make you laugh out loud there are certainly too many scenes that miss the mark. I found when Mcfarlane stuck to the present and made references to Katy Perry, Channing Tatum, and other celebrities the movie worked. More often than not though the film goes old school with things like Knight Rider cellphone ring tones and Flash Gordon references that have been done to the brink of it not being funny anymore. The story fumbles it way through awkward unfunny racial stereotypes and a cricket inducing 9/11 reference until the end of the movie where Fenway park somehow gets involved. Although using a talking teddy bear is a really funny angle for a movie, not doing anything really funny with him is inexplicable to me.
Director and cowriter Seth MacFarlane is a funny man no doubt. He also knows what his audience wants and he shamelessly gives it to them in this movie with below average humor. What he does do well in this was the casting. It was spot on and they blended perfectly together for maximum impact. The movie does have funny parts and it was never slow. The story and dialogue though is terrible and MacFarlane never seems to get the best out of this great cast. I am interested to see him direct something else because he is a super funny guy he just didn’t bring his A game with this film.
I cannot recommend this film for many reasons but mainly for its lack of laughs. I can see it working for fans of Family Guy/American Dad or for anyone who likes crass humor but be warned it is a tired looking finished product. This movie was a huge disappointment to me so I hope you like it better than I did.
T Factor + If you have not seen much of Family Guy this could score higher on the rating list.
T Factor – If you need strong storylines with your comedy this could score lower on the rating scale.
If you liked this film reel recommendations: Half Baked, Super Troopers