Directed By: Seth MacFarlane
Starring: Mark Wahlberg, Mila Kunis, Seth MacFarlane
Tag line: "The first motion picture from the creator of Family Guy"
Trivia: Ted's movements were done by Seth MacFarlane through motion capture
With 2012’s Ted, Seth MacFarlane, the creative mind behind TV’s The Family Guy, American Dad, and The Cleveland Show, tries his hand at writing and directing a feature-length comedy, and the results are just as outrageous, and every bit as hilarious, as his trio of animated series.
In 1985, eight-year-old John Bennett, a kid without any friends, received the perfect Christmas gift: a teddy bear he appropriately named Ted. But when John headed off to sleep that night with his new pal at his side, he made a wish that he and Ted would be best friends forever, and by the next morning, to the amazement of everyone including John’s parents (Ralph Garmin and Alex Borstein), his stuffed toy had miraculously come to life! As you can imagine, Ted’s status as the world’s only living teddy bear made him something of a star, yet despite appearing on nationwide talk shows and schmoozing with celebrities, Ted never once turned his back on John, and through thick and thin, they remained the best of friends. Flash to the present. John (Mark Wahlberg) is working a dead-end job at a car rental company, while Ted (voiced by MacFarlane), whose 15 minutes of fame expired decades earlier, has become a foul-mouthed has-been who stays home all day, smoking weed and watching television. The lone bright spot in John’s life is Lori (Mila Kunis), his live-in girlfriend. The two have been together for four years, but recently Lori’s been letting John know she won’t wait forever for him to grow up. Hoping to nudge their relationship forward, she suggests that John ask Ted to move out of the apartment and find a place of his own. Who will John choose: his buddy of almost 30 years, or the woman he loves?
Much like the humor in MacFarlane’s most popular (and infamous) series, The Family Guy, many of the jokes in Ted go beyond bad taste, and had me chuckling and cringing at the same time. In an early scene, John and Lori return home from a romantic dinner to find Ted sitting on the couch with some hookers, one of whom inexplicably took a huge dump on the floor. Another running gag that pushes the boundaries of decency to their breaking point is Ted’s interactions with Frank (Bill Smitrovich), the manager of the supermarket where he works. Having spent his entire existence unemployed, Ted’s none too happy when John tells him he has to find a job, so he decides to sabotage every potential employment opportunity. During his initial interview, when Frank asks if he’s got what it takes to work there, Ted’s response is “I’ll tell you what I got. Your wife’s pussy on my breath” (unfortunately for him, his plan backfires when Frank, impressed someone had the guts to talk to him that way, hires Ted on the spot). Like a precocious teen trying to see what he can get away with, MacFarlane loads Ted up with all sorts of jokes and situations that thumb their nose at political correctness, and nearly all of them had me laughing out loud.
Yet it wouldn’t be fair to categorize this movie as a simple barrage of ethnic slurs and toilet humor; Ted also contains moments of genuine warmth. Wahlberg and Kunis are convincing as a couple who’ve reached a crossroads in their relationship, and I found myself rooting for them, and hoping John would wake up and do the right thing. But then, the friendship between John and Ted is just as believable, and we can understand why John’s having such a hard time balancing his feelings for the two most important people in his life. Going into this film, I knew MacFarlane was a pro at writing jokes that push the envelope. In Ted, he also shows he’s capable of creating living, breathing characters we care about, which makes the laughs all the more sweeter.
Yes, even the ones that involve a pile of shit on the floor!