by Delon Villanueva
I have made it clear to many people that I am not a fan of Family Guy, or at least, I don’t believe it deserves the incredibly high praise by its fans. Though, as proven in the earlier seasons of the show, his online animated shorts, and public appearances, there is no doubt that Seth MacFarlane is a funny guy. I was very excited when I heard the news of MacFarlane branching out to the big screen for the first time. With such a marketable name, the guy is open to making really whatever he wants, which increased my interest. He didn’t disappoint when the concept of the movie was revealed: a teddy bear from childhood that grows up to be a foul-mouthed slacker, voiced by MacFarlane himself. With Mark Wahlberg as the bear’s owner, and Mila Kunis as his girlfriend, Ted was shaping up to be one of the most anticipated comedies of the year. Once G.I. Joe: Retaliation was pushed back to next year and Ted was pushed up to replace it, I couldn’t have been more pumped to watch it. Now that it is finally here, I can report that the movie is a lot of fun, even though it doesn’t completely fulfill its potential.
The movie begins in Boston, 1985, where we meet John Bennett, a young, lonely kid who receives a teddy bear for Christmas. That very night, before he heads to sleep, John wishes, upon a shooting star, that his bear would come to life. That wish comes true, and his bear, Ted (Seth MacFarlane), becomes a national sensation. Fast-forward twenty-seven years into the present, Ted’s fame is long gone and spends his days smoking weed with thirty-five year old John (Mark Wahlberg). John’s girlfriend, Lori (Mila Kunis), tells John that it’s time for him to grow up and focus on their relationship. She believes that for this to happen, Ted must distance himself from the couple by moving out. Unfortunately, John and Ted struggle to let go of each other and cope with the responsibility of becoming adults. The plot’s nothing special, but it’s the characters that make the movie really enjoyable. Ted is about as raunchy as you would expect, but instead of coming off as an annoying jerk, he’s a lovable goofball, so much that you forget that he’s a toy. Seth MacFarlane is hilarious as Ted, without overreacting. The motion capture allowed him to do improvisation, which added a lot of amusement to the character. Mark Wahlberg once again surprises with his comedy chops, as he has a lot of chemistry with MacFarlane. Mila Kunis does a great job as the earnest, supportive girlfriend. There’s a lot of depth to her as the female lead, unlike in most R-rated comedies (we’re looking at you, That’s My Boy). The supporting cast is awesome, too, including Joel McHale as Lori’s flirty boss and Giovanni Ribisi as Ted’s stalker.
As funny as the cast is, the script has its shortcomings. Although the story is told as well as it could have been (with an even mix of raunchiness and heart), MacFarlane’s style of humor doesn’t translate perfectly in live-action. The movie does take advantage of the R rating by being as offensive as it can be, but the jokes aren’t exactly as clever as they believe. I’m not going to be horrified if a comedy pokes fun at homosexuals or 9/11, as long as it’s necessary to the context of the scene. Ted tries to fit in so much controversial humor, but sometimes in places where it isn’t needed. Yes, I know it’s trying push limits as far as possible, but instead of building well-structured gag sequences, they just scatter itsy bits of them throughout the movie, and they’re not nearly as smart or funny as they should be. Though, this has always been my case with MacFarlane’s other works. There are always jokes that fall flat, but there are enough funny ones that give this movie rewarding quality.
Ted still proves that Seth MacFarlane has a place in film, even if it may take another movie for him to feel completely comfortable in it. The film doesn’t totally achieve the politically incorrect reputation it strives for, but there are enough dirty jokes to warrant a watch. It also wins a lot of respect from me for developing a lot of sincerity and sweetness in the main characters, and resolving the movie on a heartwarming note. So, my complaints don’t need to be resolved to assure that Ted is a good time for those looking for any entertaining R-rated comedy this summer. Try to see this movie with a bunch of friends and a packed theater. Audiences are watching this as if it could be the next Hangover.