Movie review: Ted
The idea of a cartoon that adults could appreciate may well have started with Groening's The Simpsons, but it was Seth MacFarlane who picked that animated ball up and bounced it over and over our faces until our eyes bled in red ink with his stable of cartoon shows. It was he, after all, who created Family Guy and co-created American Dad! and The Cleveland Show.
For his first foray as a director however, MacFarlane ditches the pencils and paper for a live action film. It may also signal a more mature side to him, as the film focuses on the unbreakable bond between a young boy and his toy bear. The again, maybe not that mature when you consider that the said bear in question could make proverbial troopers blush with his use of bad language.
It's Christmas, 1985, and eight year-old John Bennett is delighted with his present of a cuddly bear, which he names, somewhat unoriginally, Ted. That night young John wishes that his new toy could come to life so that they could be best friends for ever. And that's exactly what happens, much to the shock of his parents the following morning.
Twenty Seven years later, with John (Mark Walhberg) now aged thirty-five, the pair are still indeed the best of buddies. The difference is however, that what innocence they shared all those years ago has long gone. Ted now has a taste for beer, enjoys the company of prostitutes and liberally uses colourful language; think of him as a kind of cross between Paddington Bear and Mel Gibson.
But after four years of being in a relationship with Lori (Mila Kunis), the pressure is on John to take their relationship to the next level. But for that to happen, it's likely that things would have to change between himself and Ted. But can John really live apart from his furry foul-mouthed friend?
Not only has MacFarlane written and directed this feature, he's also the voice for Ted. This is only a negative if you happen to be a fan of Family Guy as Ted sounds eerily similar to Peter Griffin; so similar in fact that their voices could have been separated at birth. MacFarlane actually makes a reference to this in the film, which almost makes it justifiable; but still, it would have been far less distracting if Ted had truly a voice of his own, as opposed to simply borrow one from another well-known character.
Considering his wealth of experience in the animation world, it was a pretty big leap for MacFarlane to choose a live action feature for his first film. The fact that Ted is all CGI however acts as the perfect bridge between MacFarlane's animated adventures and the real world.
Despite his diminutive size, Ted really is a larger than life character. So much so that he manages to be accepted as a bone fide character from the off, rather than just an animated curiosity. Part of his acceptance has to be down to his relationship with Wahlberg; now Wahlberg doesn't have the greatest range for an actor, but does remarkably well in establishing a believable bond with a CGI character.
But Ted is more than just a one trick teddy; MacFarlane's script is a veritable hoot from start to finish. It's sharp, dark and yet still manages to have a heart. Most of all, it's a comedy that is aimed reassuringly at adults only, and is more than happy to contain risqué material. The fact that it also doesn't curtail to a PC crowd makes Ted the most adorably offensive film of the year.
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