Thursday, June 28, 2012

Ted Review

Ted, the little (artificially) furry guy at the center of “Ted”--a raunchy comedy from Seth MacFarlene, making his directorial debut—is one vulgar, vulgar teddy bear.  I never thought I would write “vulgar” and “teddy bear” in the same sentence. He drinks, has sex with hookers and smokes an awful lot of pot.  Ted is the result of a childhood wish made by his owner John. As a child John had no friends and when he was given the bear for Christmas he wished that it would be alive and remain his friend forever.

It’s funny to think how an innocent childhood wish could turn into something so rude and obnoxious. MacFarlane (who is known as the creator of the cartoon satire show “Family Guy,”) voices him with a heavy Boston-ish accent and boy does he utter the f-word a lot. The character also got me to thinking just how the wish really works. He drinks, smokes and screws all the time but how does his cotton filled body sustain that damage? Is he capable of alcohol poisoning? Can he OD? Can he contract sexually transmitted diseases? And while we’re on that subject since he doesn’t have a you-know-what how does that work? Why would women want to have sex with a  teddy bear?

Oh, Look at me; I’m questioning the logistics of a living stuffed animal in a comedy film. “Ted” is simply just a raunchy comedy about a teddy bear, that’s it. So it’s just magic I guess.

The story takes place long after that Christmas miracle, for a little while Ted was a celebrity but, like most celebrities over time, is now old news. John (Mark Wahlberg, showing yet again that he can do comedy fairly well) is now thirty and works at a car rental place. He still lives with his teddy bear so he’s a man-child and a loser. Most of the movie involves Ted and John hanging out, having a beer, and hitting a bong while occasionally having some crazy or freaky adventure. The running joke throughout the entire film is the fact that a grown man hangs out with a teddy bear and also the fact that everyone else has simply accepted Ted as a regular citizen. And I must admit, I found that funny, mostly because it’s amusing to think about afterwards.

Though somehow he’s landed a girl, Lori (Mila Kunis, who voices the character of Meg on “Family Guy) who’s smart and successful. They’ve been with each other for four years. Why? What does she see in him? I guess it’s that John is sweet and sensitive, but I’m not certain. MacFarlane sort of glosses over the origin of their relationship. Anyway, Lori wants more from John and the relationship, in other words: kick the bear out and get his act together. But that’s not easy; the two have been inseparable for more than twenty years.

The script by MacFarlane and fellow “Family Guy” writers Alec Sulken and Wellesley Wild is very uneven. It has a nostalgic appreciation for pop culture, making numerous references (a major one being Ted and John’s obsession with Flash Gordon) and at the same time MacFarlane’s own negative views on politics and entertainment can be seen all over. On the other hand there are too many weed, sex and bodily fluid jokes. Also certain sequences (like a party where Mr. Flash Gordon himself, Sam Jones, shows up) go on too long. Even worse the serious stuff in the plot, involving John and Lori’s relationship, is handled sloppily and turns into cliché. The movie is at its very best when it goes for stupid out of nowhere humor, like in one scene that involves Ted interviewing for a job at a grocery store.

Despite the fact that ‘Ted” is a bit of a let down, I’m still curious to see where MacFarlene will go next, if he makes another film, that is. He is a funny guy and “Family Guy” is funny (although not compared to shows like “South Park”). But as I’ve said, “Ted” is simply just a comedy about a naughty teddy bear, nothing much else.


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