Review: Ted

Ted is the first live action film from the creator  of both Family Guy and American Dad, and I suspect it will polarize audiences. Fans of MacFarlane’s close-to-the-knuckle humour will probably love it and those that don’t probably won’t.

You may expect the studio would have asked him to tone down the bad taste humour as MacFarlane has been in trouble and had Family Guy banned in the past. But actually the humour here is just as acerbic and scabrous.

The basic premise of Ted is that a young boy, called John Bennett, wishes that his teddy bear could come to life so they could be best friends forever. His wish came true and we pick up the story many years later where  John (Mark Wahlberg) and Ted (voiced by Seth MacFarlane) are still best friends band are living with John’s girlfriend, Lori (Mila Kunis). If there wasn’t a CG teddy bear as the buddy in this story I really feel this film would have played out the same way. In fact you could imagine a Seth Rogan or Zach Galifianakis in the role.

That said, the bear truly is the star of the picture and the work on the computer graphics is pretty good, so much so that you just accept that it’s actually there. Thought the acting skills from the cast also help with the believability of the premise. Over the course of the film the plot plays out like a standard rom-com; John and Lori’s relationship comes under pressure from John’s relationship with Ted and his lack of drive, things go bad and John has to try to make things right again. Though there are quite a few elements that aren’t quite so straight down the middle.

Mark Whalberg and Mila Kunis have really good on-screen chemistry, though I fail to believe the fact that a successful, attractive career woman would have stuck with a stoned slacker with a menial job…even if his best friend is a talking teddy bear! Joel McHale puts in a good performance as Lori’s sleazy boss who is trying to get into her pants. But the best supporting performance comes from  Giovanni Ribisi as a creepy obsessive fan of Ted who is trying to buy the bear for his son from John.

Some of the pop culture references are quite U.S.-centric, but much less so than in the cartoon shows. But even so, a lot of the references are aimed at an audience of around 30 years old and up. In fact, the main reference is to do with Flash Gordon – a film released in 1980 – there is a long scene where they meet Sam J. Jones (the actor who played Flash) at a house party where all sorts of chaos ensues.

I feel that there are some things to be criticised, but at the same time it is, hands-down, the funniest film I’ve seen in a very long time and also seemed to go down really well with the majority of people in the screenings I’ve been too…except the couple that left about 20 minutes in. To get the most from this film I believe you have to be a fan of MacFarlane’s humour and have a broad understanding of cult 80s films. Though if you aren’t then there’s still a rude, drug-smoking, wise-cracking teddy bear who swears a lot.

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