It is difficult for me to evaluate Ted without first commenting on its creator, Seth MacFarlane. The guy is an intelligent bastard, there is no way around it. He’s cornered the market on self-deprecating pop culture nostalgia and commentary. South Park and The Simpsons are still heavy hitters, but MacFarlane’s created his own little universe, with Family Guy, American Dad! and The Cleveland Show. He’s built his own empire, and is arguably now excreting the same excessive amount of entertainment as the culture he critiques. Now that I’m off of my high horse about the Family Guy-verse, I’ll give Ted a whirl.
John Bennett is a lonely little boy living in Boston in 1985 who wishes his toy teddy bear would come to life. By the power of the shootiest of shooting stars, his wish comes true and Teddy and John are best friends. Word of the talking teddy bear spreads and Ted enjoys a surge of fame akin to that of a child star and slowly burns out. I’m also assuming that at some point John aged rapidly and worked out a lot to look like Mark Wahlberg and headline Marky Mark and The Funky Bunch in 1989, but I digress. Via montage we flash forward through the years and see the two friends grow up and meet John’s girlfriend Lori (Mila Kunis.) While John is a shlub who works at a car rental place, Lori is a PR professional; because in movies females are responsible grown-ups and males are permanently inebriated man-children. Lori wants John to grow up and stop messing around with Ted, Ted wants him to smoke pot and watch Flash Gordon all day – what is a Marky Mark to do?! The rest of the movie is the predictable setup for the buddy movie fallout and return, with all of the lewd and crude humor you could want in between.
Ted is pretty much exactly what you expect it to be: a comedy relying on the shocking juxtaposition of a children’s toy and adult humor. The movie is full of cameos from many actors who owe a large amount of their recent paychecks to Seth MacFarlane including Mila Kunis, Alex Borstein, Ralph Garman, Patrick Warburton and Jean-Luc Picard himself: Patrick Stewart. I went to see the movie and was closed out of two different showings; this movie is popular. But I will say that if I had talked with any of my fellow audience members I would probably have hated them. I’m sure that Ted posters will adorn the hallowed halls of frat houses next to other over-viewed gems like Anchorman and Wedding Crashers for years to come. (Also, don’t be surprised to see a resurgence of pretend Flash Gordon fans.) Ted provides laughs and humorous dialogue, but as expected it is a live-action version of any number of Family Guy episodes.
Final Grade: C+