I will say this upfront before I get into this review of Ted… I absolutely cannot stand Seth MacFarlane. Well, more specifically I cannot stand his shows The Family Guy, American Dad or The Cleveland Show. The scatological humor is completely lost on me since the shows are basically filled with tiny set-ups to sell one random pop culture reference after another. That’s not funny to me in the slightest and I still can’t fathom why it’s so damned popular.
That being said I had little interest in MacFarlane’s feature film directing debut, Ted. I intentionally skipped it in the theaters this summer and didn’t plan to rent it either. That is until a friend told me about all the love MacFarlane threw to the 80s camp classic Flash Gordon in the flick. He even went so for as to have Sam J. Jones play himself. I figured a Redbox rental wouldn’t be so bad.
The story of a man-child, John (Mark Wahlberg), who when he was young wished that his teddy bear were alive. The wish came true, and Ted (voiced by Seth MacFarlane) became a media sensation. Now in his mid-thirties and dating a fantastic, yet overly forgiving girlfriend (Mila Kunis), he must decide if he wants to continue holding on to his childhood by smoking weed and being a slacker with Ted or move on and finally become an adult by proposing to her.
It’s a competently made comedy that features some impressive CGI to animate Ted, but when all is said and done this movie boils down to the fact that at it’s core it’s all about a teddy bear saying “cocksucker” over and over again and that’s all. It’s funny for the first few minutes when the story moves into the present day with the adult John, played sincerely by a way too old for this part Mark Wahlberg, but as the movie trudges on the novelty wears painfully thin and gets tiresome in the extreme.
Out of all the gags in the film the only parts I found genuinely funny were the aforementioned Flash Gordon scenes (gotta love the Flash Jump) and a hilariously one sided fist fight between John and Ted. The Norah Jones bits were funny too but went a bit too far with the racist jokes. Seeing Mark Wahlberg yet again rip on his own singing career (like in Boogie Nights) made me giggle as well. Patrick Stewart’s narrator has a couple of choice moments as well (the Apache helicopter line cracked me up). Other than that I didn’t find the majority of the film all that humorous.
The cast is fine and do their best with the pretty standard raunchy romantic comedy material. My issue is mainly with MacFarlane and his seeming inability to not be able to cast other people in voiceover roles. Don’t get me wrong, he can do some great voices, but as Ted he sounds EXACTLY like Peter Griffin from The Family Guy and goes so far as to make a joke about it as well. Know your limitations and have the humility to step back and let someone else take the part. It was really distracting to me.
The main story of John needing to grow up and put away childish things is all fine and dandy, but it also makes Mila Kunis’ character out to be kind of a bitch when she throws the “it’s him or me” ultimatum his way. To me it was more like the skanks she worked with talked her into going that route to begin with so it also makes her a little stupid in my eyes as well. I’m sure all she really needed to do was have a nice little sit down with Ted and lay out how she wants to settle down with John and that he needs to start to live his own life. Sure it wouldn’t make for the greatest of conflicts in the story, but at least it wouldn’t go the cliché route where she lays out her ultimatum, he makes a stupid mistake and she breaks up with him only to have him win her back by humiliating himself in public while she’s on a fake date with her ultra douche boss (Joel McHale). I like Mila Kunis, but this movie made her look like she needs to find a better agent.
Some of the jokes are in poor taste as well. I don’t know why someone in their right mind would crack a joke like “I really hope you get Lou Gehrig’s Disease” and expect an audience to laugh because I sure as hell didn’t. I actually said aloud “Seriously?!” when that scene went down. I could have come up with a dozen other crude things to say in place of that. There’s also the racist crap Ted says to Norah Jones where he calls her a Muslim and thanks her for 9/11. Not cool.
While Ted isn’t nearly as grating on the nerves as MacFarlane’s other properties it isn’t all that good either. It is passable entertainment and I probably won’t ever watch it again since I can name fifty better comedies I’d rather drop into the ol’ BluRay player at any given time. It has its moments, but they are few and far between. I will say this… I feel the need to watch Flash Gordon again immediately.