Reviewed by

Christopher Armstead

If you were to ask me I’d tell you, based on ‘The Family Guy’ alone, that Seth McFarlane is a comic genius.  I’d almost call the man a comic god because he kills me, but calling anybody a god of anything kind of creeps me out.  If you were to ask my wife, Seth McFarlane could drop dead tomorrow and she would probably give less than a damn since the woman watches episode after episode of ‘The Family Guy’ with a stone face.  And she has a good sense of humor, the woman does, but Seth and ‘The Family Guy’ don’t work for her.  My point being that apparently Seth McFarlane’s style of humor doesn’t work on everybody.  I mean it works on enough people because Family Guy has made the man filthy rich and now he has a feature film with today’s movie ‘Ted’ which will no doubt will make him even filthier richer, but I guess his brand of humor is an acquired taste.  Just so you know ‘Ted’ was straight killing me.  I didn’t even bother to take the woman along. 

Little John Bennett has no friends, which is why he made the wish that his teddy bear would come to life.  Damn if that doesn’t happen.   Personally I would call this event the clear handy work of Beelzebub, I’ve seen ‘Child’s Play’ thank you very much, but Jesus is getting most of the credit for the momentous event, being that it is around Christmastime and all, and Ted becomes a national sensation.  But through it all, John and Ted remain best friends.  Thunder Buddies for life they call each other, since they are both scared of thunder, which is cute when you’re nine, but infinitely less cute when you’re approaching middle age. 

Yes, Ted and John have grown up, John looking just like Mark Wahlberg and Ted looking the same but sounding like Cliff Clavin from Cheers while being voiced by Seth McFarlane.  The national interest that was an animated bear has worn off and mundane life has settled in.  I’m sure in reality the government would’ve confiscated Ted and ran all sorts of horrible tests on him, but we will ignore this inarguable truth.  John has a girlfriend in the lovely Lori (Mila Kunis), an absolutely wonderful woman who is getting a little weary of her thirty five year old boyfriend and his pet teddy bears wildly immature antics.  Wildly immature.  I’d venture to say that John and Ted have regressed from when John was a nine-year old. 

But how mature can you expect a man to be when his best friend is a stuffed teddy bear?  John’s girl expects him to be like Super Mature, and makes an ultimatum which forces Ted to finally move out on his own.  And it might’ve worked too if it wasn’t for Sam Freaking Jones.  It’s complicated.  Nonetheless, boy loses girl, boy has to get girl back, stuffed bear gets kidnapped by lunatics, boy has to get stuffed bear back, and it’s looking like neither of these things are going to happen for poor John, were it not for the power love and friendship, and the erudite narration of Patrick Stewart who actually uses profanity in this movie.  Is nothing sacred anymore?

One of the reasons that I think that the McFarlane style is lost on some people like my wife, ignoring the fact that a lot of the humor is just plain tasteless, but a large part of this humor relies a lot on obscure, old, pop culture references.  Sure, I know who Sam Jones is because when I was ten years old the ‘Flash Gordon’ remake, soundtrack by Queen, was a pretty darned important part of my life back then, but does this have any kind of impact on my wife or anybody under the age of thirty?  Probably not.  Note that I have not seen Flash since then and the movie is kind of crappy, all things considered, but the nostalgia factor is sky high for that one.  Regardless, a lot of the humor is built on semi-obscure pop-culture references like that one, so some of this might be lost in the translation, even for McFarlane fans.

All of that nonsense to the side, ‘Ted’ is probably the funniest movie I’ve seen this year, even though ’21 Jump Street’ was pretty damn funny in its own right now that I think about it.  The novelty of Ted being a walking, talking stuffed bear wears off in about three minutes, but no worries because Ted actually becomes an authentic, real live profanely tasteless character, who just by chance happens to be a walking, talking stuffed bear.  True, the stuffed bear device does work like a charm, meaning if it were Seth Rogen sitting next to Marky Mark saying these awful things it probably wouldn’t have been nearly as funny, but there is a lot more to this movie than simply a talking stuffed bear.

At its heart, ‘Ted’ probably could be called a Romantic Comedy, albeit one that’s actually funny and one that’s filled with a lot sharp, clever and biting dialog.  But the trappings of a RomCom are there, be it Johnny having to get his girl back or his best friend back and the trials and tribs that are involved within that, with everything smelling like roses in the end.  As such the movie does have a heart, there is some genuine emotion embedded amidst the tastelessness with the overriding message being that bro’s do not have to come before ho’s, and that the two can happily co-exist.  That right there is some deep stuff, a message almost worthy of Aesop himself.

‘Ted’ does become incrementally less funny the longer it does carry on, but we didn’t expect it to maintain that same level of hijinkity throughout the entire film and it does push the limits of good taste to the breaking point at times, can’t argue with that, but whatever expectations I had coming into this movie, even though I don’t know exactly what they were, ‘Ted’ met them and exceeded them.  Can’t ask for too much more than that.

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