Ted

By James Jay Edwards
Released: June 29, 2012
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Synopsis
Family Guy creator Seth MacFarlane brings his boundary-pushing brand of humor to the big screen for the first time as writer, director and voice star of Ted. In the live action/CG-animated comedy, he tells the story of John Bennett (Mark Wahlberg), a grown man who must deal with the cherished teddy bear who came to life as the result of a childhood wish...and has refused to leave his side ever since. www.tedisreal.com
Film Review
Production
In 1985, eight-year-old loner John Bennett wished that his new teddy bear was real so that he could have a friend. A shooting star just happened to be passing over, the wish worked, and the stuffed toy became real. After scaring John's parents and enjoying a nice little run of celebrity, including being on the cover of Rolling Stone and a guest spot on Johnny Carson, Ted's fifteen minutes were up. Twenty-seven years later, Ted still lives with the older John (Mark Wahlberg from Boogie Nights), who passes the time between shifts at a rental car agency by getting stoned with his childhood teddy bear. John's girlfriend, Lori (Black Swan's Mila Kunis), is anxious to get on with their lives, so she persuades John to ask Ted to move out. Ted gets a job at a supermarket and finds an apartment, but John and Ted still hang out constantly, putting a strain on John and Lori's relationship. When John is reluctant to cut his best friend out of his life altogether, he is tasked with finding a balance between his friendship with Ted and his relationship with Lori. Add in the stress created by Lori's boss, Rex (Joel McHale from "Community" and "Talk Soup") hitting on her constantly and a psychotic father named Donny (Saving Private Ryan's Giovanni Ribisi in another role that asks if he's a brilliant actor or if he's really just that crazy) who wants to steal Ted for his own son, and that's Ted in a nutshell.

Ted is the first feature film from "Family Guy" creator Seth MacFarlane (who not only directed but voiced the character of Ted, which explains why the bear sounds so much like Peter Griffin). MacFarlane took a couple of his "Family Guy" writers, Alec Sulkin and Wellesley Wild, and wrote the epilogue to the story that has been told for years: the childhood toy brought alive by a wish. The premise is absurd, but that's why it works so well. As funny as the film is, there is much more to it than simple laughs. There are parallel plots at work in Ted -- Ted trying to gain his independence, John and Lori trying to build a life together while dealing with her lecherous boss, John and Ted trying to keep Ted out of the clutches of Donny and his son -- and the different storylines all weave in and out of each other pretty well. A big strong point in Ted is the fact that it doesn't take itself too seriously; like any good comedy, Ted stays funny even when it's getting sappy or dark, so it never gives the impression that it's getting soft. And, like MacFarlane's bread-and-butter "Family Guy," Ted is packed with cameos and guest stars, and full of obscure and no-so-obscure references, from John and Ted's obsession with the 1980 sci-fi classic Flash Gordon to a hysterical Airplane! rip-off scene. There are plenty of inside jokes; the more well-versed the viewer is in pop-culture, the funnier Ted will be.
Special Effects
The bear in Ted is almost completely CG. There are places where it looks like he may be a puppet (which, if he isn't, that's a testament to the visual effects team), and in some non-motion scenes it appears that a "stunt bear" was used, which looks like a real teddy bear, but for most of the interaction during shooting the actors must have been speaking and playing to nothing. The animated bear in Ted goes way beyond anything that Disney or Pixar is doing. There is one scene where John and Ted get into a knock-down drag-out fight, and it seriously puts most action film punch-ups to shame. Although, on screen it looks pretty funny because, you know, it is Marky Mark fighting a teddy bear, the way Mark Wahlberg sells the fight combined with the skill of the animation team makes it look like John is really getting all MMA with a toy. Ted intermingles seamlessly with the humans and his surroundings, so it's easy to forget that a teddy bear is not supposed to do the things that Ted does.
Comedy Factor
Ted is freakin' hilarious. The first half of the movie is nothing but belly laughs. In one scene, Ted hosts a party that he convinces John to sneak away from a dinner with Lori to attend and the entire scene is non-stop laughter. Ted puts himself in the middle of all the sex, drugs and rock & roll that will have him, culminating in his explaining the style in which guys in the nineties would sing while belting out karaoke to a Hootie and the Blowfish song. This type of humor would be funny if Ted was a human, but the fact that he's a teddy bear just escalates the humor exponentially. Even the parts of the movie that have heart are made funny by Ted's snarky comments and his awesome outlook on life. Although the jokes are definitely R-rated, it's not simply potty humor. Seth MacFarlane's warped impression of the world combined with the silliness of a live stuffed bear make Ted the most honestly funny movie that's come around in a long time.



Genre
Comedy
Release Date
June 29, 2012
MPAA Rating
R
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