Do you enjoy programs featuring anthropomorphic animals hanging out with their loser best friends, drinking and doing drugs while making crude jokes and discussing semi-obscure pop culture references? Well Seth MacFarlane certainly does, and with Ted, he combines his passions with the Judd Apatow “man-child grows up in order to get the girl” formula to create an uneven and painfully predictable, yet quite often incredibly hilarious film.
Through the magic of love and the power of a wish, John Bennett (Mark Wahlberg) saw his dream come true when his cherished teddy bear came to life. After a brief fling with fame (this is a talking teddy bear we’re talking about - it’s only natural that people would eventually take notice), Ted and John have settled into a comfortable life of bong rips and repeated viewings of Flash Gordon. The problem is, John’s girlfriend Lori (Mila Kunis) wants a little more out of her relationship than a life of sitting on the couch getting high. So John must make the decision to blah, blah, blah…you know where this is going, right? I don’t really need to continue with my back-of-the-box explanation of the film’s premise, do I? I didn’t think so.
So here’s the deal: Ted is really, really funny, except when it’s not. Then it just sort of trudges along for a little while, riding the wave of its premise and struggling to get through the basics of its cookie-cutter plot until it finds its groove again and leaves you doubled over laughing, hoping you don’t pee your pants. But I’ll be the first to tell you - a foul-mouthed teddy bear that smokes pot and has sex with hookers is a pretty damn funny premise. So even when it’s just going through the motions, Ted manages to be fairly entertaining. And when it hits upon those little nuggets of comedic gold, it’s absolutely wonderful.
Not so wonderful is Marky Mark’s performance. I probably don’t need to remind anyone that Mr. Wahlberg’s acting range is somewhere south of Keanu Reeves, but for some reason unfathomable to even myself, I (and obviously, many others) still find him to be quite likeable and even entertaining. But even that likability is stretched thin in this movie. He’s just bad, and not “bad meaning good” but bad meaning “oh my god, it’s painful and embarrassing to watch you struggle through these lines while Mila Kunis does her best to carry your dead ass through yet another scene”. The dialogue between Wahlberg and Kunis is decent, but his delivery makes it entirely unconvincing and threatens to ruin the movie on several occasions. We are told that Lori loves John because he’s witty and goofy and sincere and he’s definitely written that way. However, Marky Mark’s performance makes his dialogue come off as nervously corny pickup lines from an awkward loser trying to impress a hot girl who is light years out of his league while on a first date rather than the casual intimate banter of young lovers. Or to put it more simply, the stuffed animal has more range than the guy who was once nominated for an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor.
So here’s the part of the review where I’m more-or-less obligated to bring up Family Guy. Because let’s face it: Seth MacFarlane is a one-note entertainer and at the end of the day, everything he does is pretty much just a variation on the Family Guy. Now, I like the guy, okay? When you tell me he is involved in something, I generally think, “Oh, I might enjoy that, because I often enjoy things that Seth MacFarlane is involved in, even though I also tend to hate at least 20% of everything he is involved in,” but even I will freely admit that the man never even comes remotely close to straying from his recipe for success. You know how it works: take one lovable loser, add a talking something-or-other, liberally douse with pop-culture references, occasionally recreating a scene from a TV show or movie shot-for-shot. Sprinkle in a rape and/or racist joke or two so that everybody watching knows that oh yes, you’re not afraid to go there. Bake for 22 minutes (yes, that’s a pot reference). Voila! You’ve got comedic gold. Or something.
Anyway, Ted follows that same basic formula and like Family Guy, when it’s hot, it’s hot, and when it’s not, it’s… didn’t I already say this in the third paragraph? Yeah, I did. So if you like Family Guy, you’re probably safe just renting/buying Ted. It’s safe to say you’ll like it. Sorry, I guess I should’ve just said that in the beginning so you didn’t have to waste your time reading this whole thing. And if you’re one of those folks who doesn’t much care for Family Guy, I’d probably still tell you to check out Ted. I mean, it’s pretty funny. It’s a talking teddy bear doing cocaine with Marky Mark. The flaws are more glaringly obvious because it’s three times as long as an episode of Family Guy, but at the end of the day, I cannot find it in my heart to steer you away from a movie that wears its love for Flash Gordon on its sleeve as proudly as Ted does. And it’s a teddy bear doing cocaine with Marky Mark. Come on.
Anyway, to cut through all my snark and sarcasm, I found Ted to be pretty damn funny. I won’t call it a great film because it certainly isn’t. It won’t change your life and you won’t find your heart touched by the warmth and sincerity it displays despite its gruff exterior and crude humor. But I have to assume you’ll laugh, and that’s sort of the whole point.
The Blu-ray features a bunch of deleted scenes and alternate takes, some of which are hilarious and some of which were wisely left out of the film. There’s a making-of, a gag reel, commentary, an unrated vwrsion, and a few other bonuses that are worth watching. And it’s Blu-ray, which means it’s 1080p high-definition widescreen 1.85:1 with DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 and blah, blah, blah - it looks really good and it sounds really good and it’ll look and sound even better when you’re high and I’m not stupid; I know your first thought when you saw the commercial was “Oh man, I’m totally getting baked and watching that movie about the talking teddy bear!”
And you should.