Movie Review: ‘Ted’
Director: Seth MacFarlane
Cast: Seth MacFarlane, Mark Wahlberg, Mila Kunis
Plot: John Bennett makes a wish that his teddy bear would come to life and be his best friend, and this wish comes true. Years later as an adult Ted is still with him, but isn’t the best influence in his life.
Review: Seth MacFarlance, creator of Family Guy, American Dad and The Cleveland Show makes the leap to the big screen with Ted. How does it shape up? In a word: in-cohesive. Ted is comprised on one joke and one joke only – a child’s toy is an asshole. He swears, drinks, takes drugs and has sex. The material only occasionally deviates from this one gag which has been done before and better (such as in Meet the Feebles). Some of the routines involving the bear are funny and he’s animated well enough for it to work, but it’s hardly enough to squeeze a full running time out of. But then again this is the man who ‘created’ three different shows with the exact same premise.
What’s most confounding is how little they actually use the talking bear with a juvenile attitude. He features in almost every scene but the jokes and story aren’t about him being a talking bear. The jokes are less him doing things because he’s a bear, but because they’re adult behaviors and it’s a bear doing it. The plot wouldn’t change one iota if they swapped him out for a human character. John needs to grow up and be responsible but his friend is a bad influence on him – being a talking bear is a moot point. It feels like the opportunity for some good material was passed over. Instead we have an endless stream of fart jokes, a teddy bear doing drugs and racial stereotypes like a Chinese man busting into the room carrying a live duck he was about to cook.
There’s a couple of cameos in the film, some of which form key plot points such as when John abandons his girlfriend to meet his idol, but given the level of humor in the film it’s unlikely the audience for the film will know or care who any of these people are. The humor with downright juvenile and the story is generic, and with the Family Guy pedigree the viewership is likely to be juvenile as well. The young audience may not appreciate the gags about Tom Skerrit, Sam Jones (star of Flash Gordon), Ted Danson and Norma Jones. It’s not unlike Bee Movie putting Ray Liotta quoting Goodfellas in a kids movie. Some of the jokes about these characters get really dragged out to the point that they’d have stopped being funny if they’d been funny in the first place. And the joke about Ted ‘sounding like Peter Griffin’ isn’t funny, with is why every other voice actor ever has not made it.
As said before some of the jokes work, such as Ted explaining how to sing any song from the 90s, but most miss the marl. It suffers the same basic flaw that MacFarlane’s TV shows do in that random comments or references are dropped in without context. The Chinese guy calls his duck James Franco – and that’s the entire gag. No set-up, no punchline…just a guy calling a duck James Franco. There’s an extended fight scene in a hotel and it’s hard to tell if it’s supposed to be funny. There’s no music or physical comedy to suggest that it is, apparently we should just find it funny because it’s a bear.
The same problems exist with the story, in that things happen for the sake of moving to the next scene regardless of context or sense. Ted tries hitting on a girl at work and disgusts her – but in the next scene they’re dating anyway with nothing in between. John is supposed to be an irresponsible man-child who needs to take responsibility for his life, which is a believable role for someone in their mid-twenties, but he looks as though he’s in his 40s. Why Lori (Kunis) has been dating him for four years beggars belief as he has no redeeming qualities. The only things we know about him is that he’s irresponsible and likes getting stoned, which are the qualities that she doesn’t like. Essentially she doesn’t like anything about him that we see. Suspension of disbelief doesn’t extend to him running out on her to get stoned with his mate for four years, especially when he’s so inconsiderate that he leaves her with a guy who has openly admitted several times that he intends to sleep with her.
When we get to the end of the movie we have a generic duex ex machina scene where John gets on stage during a concert to declare his love. This looks like it should be the end of the movie, but then we get another generic ending sequence where Ted does the right thing by Lori and Ted. And then because the movie isn’t padded enough we get another generic ending involving a car chase. It’s almost as though a belching teddy bear wasn’t enough material to sustain a full movie.
Joel Mchale is also fun to watch playing a snarky asshole, and some of the Ted stuff works, but you’ll only really enjoy this if you still find Family Guy fresh and original in it’s eleventh season. The final impression is that MacFarlane made this movie for himself rather than an audience.
Rating: THREE outta TEN