Ted (2012)

Ted (2012) – I had a teddy bear growing up. His name was Teddy (I’m the creative type). He was my best friend and truth be told, I still kept him around longer than most kids do (not like in junior high or anything like that but still). He sits on a shelf in my parents’ house currently. I don’t keep him in my bed anymore or have long imaginary conversations with him, but I still don’t think I’ll ever be able to give him away. The bond between boy and bear is sacred. Seth MacFarlane apparently feels the same way. Ted is the Family Guy creator/star’s directorial debut. It takes the talking teddy bear to places that Teddy Ruxpin has never gone. Watching a teddy bear curse, piss, have sex, and give the finger to thunder (it makes sense in the movie) has to be breaking some kind of new ground.

John Bennett (Bretton Manley) is an unpopular child who gets a teddy bear for Christmas and wishes that the bear (named Teddy… great minds think alike) were really alive. He gets his wish and Teddy comes to life (voiced by Tara Strong in a little kid voice). The media takes notice and Teddy becomes a celebrity in the mid-80s. In 2012, he’s a washed up has-been (now voiced by MacFarlane, sounding a lot like a Bostonized version of Peter Griffin) still living with the now-35 John (Mark Wahlberg). John’s got kind of a dead-end life, except in his relationship with Lori (Mila Kunis). But Lori’s starting to get fed up with Ted’s bad influence on John. Plus her boss (Joel McHale) is always hitting on her. Also this really creepy guy (Giovanni Ribisi) and his awful son (Aedin Mincks) are following Ted around…

I have some issues with Family Guy. It’s got some serious problems with character and narrative storytelling, which would be fine except it’s not as funny as it used to be. Those problems are ones that I thought would bode poorly for MacFarlane’s transition to films. Well, my worries were more-or-less unfounded because Ted does not have those problems. The characters are well-developed, the story makes sense, and the movie is funny as all hell. More than that, it’s surprisingly sweet. In addition it plays to MacFarlane’s strengths: “offensive” humor and a couple great cameos. Wahlberg continues the comic streak he started in The Other Guys and has really great chemistry with both Kunis and the computer generated Ted. The special effects, motion capture technology similar to that used in Avatar or Rise of the Planet of the Apes, is seamless (no pun intended). Some of the movie is a little heavy on reference humor (hope you like Flash Gordon) like other MacFarlane projects but overall Ted is a very fun movie well worth checking out.

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