Growing up, which one of us hasn’t wished that one of our toys would come to life? “Ted” takes that idea, fast forwards to adulthood and slams it with Seth MacFarlane’s crude “Family Guy” sense of humor.
A child named John doesn’t have any friends, so one Christmas he wishes that a teddy bear his parents give him would come to life and, being Christmas, it does. About 27 years later, man and bear are still best friends, and while they have both grown up, neither have matured. John (Mark Wahlberg, “Contraband”) works a dead end job but has a lovely and devoted girlfriend named Lori (Mila Kunis, “Friends With Benefits”) of four years. Lori wants more out of the relationship, and thinks that Ted (Seth MacFarlane, “Family Guy”) is preventing John from growing up and realizing his full potential.
This sounds like the classic “it’s either him or me” scenario, but it’s a bit more complicated and heartfelt than that, which is surprising for MacFarlane. Despite the debauchery and crude humor throughout the movie, there is an actual story taking place about coming into your own and true friendship. Mind you, it’s lost half of the time under the sheer ridiculousness of the movie, but it is there.
MacFarlane, as director, co-writer and main character of the movie, is a genius. He establishes early on that Ted becomes a sort of celebrity when he first comes to life, which leads to everyone basically ignoring the fact that he’s a stuffed bear when he and John are older. He creates a readily acceptable reality in which Ted is considered normal, even if he is the only living toy in the world. This eliminates viewer distraction, and allows for a more immersive experience.
The CGI used to animate Ted is absolutely phenomenal. The technology has come so far in the past decade and, except for a few parts here and there, Ted looks extremely lifelike.
Mark Wahlberg might not earn an Emmy nomination for his role as John, but there’s something to be said for actors like himself who can film an entire movie while talking to a stand-in prop (or nothing at all) and still look convincing in the finished edit. He looks real in pretty much everything he does, and since he has the most interaction with Ted, this is both important and impressive.
Possibly the only downside to this movie are the parallels to “Family Guy.” Ted acts like an even less public-conscience Peter Griffin, and MacFarlane’s voice acting is so similar to what he does for Peter that it is distracting. Kunis (who plays Meg in “Family Guy”) portrays a Lois-like character, while Wahlberg’s character is very similar to Brian. “Ted” is, more or less, a live action version of “Family Guy;” all the same components are there. While both the movie and the show are fun and entertaining, the similarities are a bit much.
Overall, it’s a great movie, but unless you’re a fan of extremely crude humor, steer clear. And don’t bring the kids either; the last thing they need to see is a teddy bear smoking from a bong.