Should I Watch..? 'Ted' (2012)
What's the big deal?
Ted (sometimes stylised as ted) is a comedy film released in 2012 and was directed by the creator of TV's Family Guy, Seth MacFarlane. Based on MacFarlane's concept, it was a critical and financial smash and became one of the highest grossing films of the year. It was also a film that I wasn't in any great rush to see due to my dislike of Family Guy, which I consider to be simply an edgier version of The Simpsons. However, I'm delighted to report that MacFarlane has proved me wrong - this is one of the wittiest, funniest and most impressive comedies I've seen in many years. Normally I steer away from bawdy comedies such as this but this riotous movie, which is strictly for adults only, had both me and my wife laughing out loud.
What's it about?
In 1985, a lonely Boston child named John Bennett receives a teddy bear for Christmas. Falling in love with the cuddly creature, John makes a wish that the bear would come to life and due to a combination of Christmas magic and shooting stars, the bear soon develops a life of its own. Soon, it becomes a minor celebrity in its own right, appears on TV before quickly fading into obscurity again (much like Justin Bieber, as the narrator helpfully points out to us).
Fast forward to 2012 and John and Ted are still living together, despite John now being 35 and living with his long-suffering girlfriend of four years, Lori Collins. They spend their time smoking weed, drinking Buds and reminiscing over lost years watching Flash Gordon. But things come to a head after Ted is caught with four prostitutes in the apartment, one of whom has defecated on the floor. Lori soon forces John to face the decision that he has been putting off his whole life - he has to choose between an adult life with Lori or smoking his days away with Ted. Can John find a way to have both or are they all heading for disaster?
What's to like?
I often watch comedies that will occasionally make me laugh or (as usually the case) not at all but with Ted, you're in safe hands. Most of the laughs come from MacFarlane as the bong-smoking, foul-mouthed bear but Wahlberg and Kunis deserve equal credit for portraying a young couple very much in love but with the most unusual stumbling block imaginable. The script sticks strictly to the 'romance vs bromance' formula we've often seen but due to the magic of some understated quality CG, you fully believe Ted as a character and not simply an invisible space filled in with computer graphics like Jar Jar Binks. Take the fight scene between John and Ted which is about as brutal and real as any punch-up you'd get outside of a Jason Bourne film.
It's hard sometimes to cheer for slacker characters but Wahlberg gives a fine comic performance as John. Throw in some pop-culture references that MacFarlane utilises so often in Family Guy and you have cameos from the likes of Ryan Reynolds, Tom Skerritt, Norah Jones and Patrick Stewart (who is hilarious as the narrator) but the king of them all is Sam J. Jones, who puts in the best performance of his career as himself. The endless sending up of Flash Gordon is not only brilliantly realised but surreally funny - only in a Seth MacFarlane picture can a party turn into a fist fight between Flash Gordon and Ted against an angry Chinese man called Ming and a duck.
- The movie was shipped to cinemas under the name "Thunder Buddies" which is, of course, what John and Ted called each other.
- Several cast members from Family Guy appear in the movie - MacFarlane voices Peter Griffin, Stewie & Brian while Kunis voices Meg. Patrick Stewart, Peter Warburton, Ralph Garman and Alex Borstein also feature in the film. Only Seth Green does not appear in Ted.
- Ted was Universal Studio's most successful film of 2012, beating both Battleship and Snow White And The Huntsman. Mind you, neither of them got particularly great write-ups so perhaps that's not too surprising.
What's not to like?
The subplot about Ted's stalkers - played by Giovanni Ribisi and Aedin Mincks - felt kinda tacked on although at least it provided the film with a sense of closure, I suppose. Ribisi also felt wasted in the role - he's a perfectly capable actor so why relegate him to a weirdo lurking in the shadows? Speaking of the ending, I do kinda feel like it wrapped things up too neatly and I certainly don't feel like it corresponded with what went before it.
Other than that, the only thing I could find fault with was the excessive product placement (I know you can drink more than just Budweiser in the US!) and the somewhat excessive foul language - if that sort of thing upsets you, anyway. Personally, I would forgive Ted if it came up and pooped on my carpet. I was having too much fun to notice.
Should I watch it?
Unless you are offended by bad language, violence or drug usage (in which case, stop reading my blog!) then the answer is undoubtedly 'yes'. This is a damn funny film, fuelled by a central premise as outlandish as it is brilliant. Not only that but the film has a solid supporting cast, genuinely funny cameos and pop culture references, red hot one-liners and possibly the most believable CG character in any film since Gollum. It's not one for the kids by any means but for grown-ups (especially immature ones), this is about as good as it gets.
Great For: date nights, adults, potheads
Not So Great For: the easily offended, children, Hasbro
What else should I watch?
In case you don't like the sound of Ted then maybe try some of these other comedies - hopefully these will tickle your funny bone instead. Date Night is a serviceable romantic farce featuring Steve Carell and Tina Fey which I enjoyed while The Hangover is every bit as bawdy as Ted but features an ingenious plot device of people retracing their previous steps inch by torturous inch during a drunken night of debauchery in Las Vegas. It's easily done.
For something much more cerebral, In The Loop is a political comedy featuring enough bad language to sink the Bismarck or why not stick with MacFarlane's long-time nemesis - The Simpsons Movie is still an enjoyable outing although it's nothing like as edgy as MacFarlane's shows.
Rex, Lori's boss and stalker
Donny, Ted's stalker
Seth MacFarlane, Andy Sulkin, Wellesley Wild *
Release Date (UK)
1st August, 2012
Academy Award nomination
Best Original Song
© 2015 Benjamin Cox