Sitting through a Seth MacFarlane movie, the very first of its kind, was a lot more straight-forward than expected: full of crude jokes, foul language, idiotic behavior and man-children. Even the titular vulgarity spouting teddy bear is nothing unexpected given MacFarlane’s series “Family Guy”. To be completely honest, there’s nothing really new about this movie. It has the look and feel of a two-hour long “Family Guy” episode because, at the end of the day, it is.
At Quality 16 and Rave
And if you’re not particularly fond of the unique brand of humor MacFarlane popularized through his TV shows, steer clear of this film because chances are you’re not going to have a good time. As for the rest of us MacFarlane fans, buckle up because “Ted” really is a hilariously entertaining ride.
The movie starts off in the suburbs of Boston where a lonely kid, John (Mark Wahlberg, “Contraband”), wishes for a unique Christmas present — one that will be “truly alive,” keeping him company for the rest of his life. In classically unexplained fashion, the cute little teddy bear, Ted, comes miraculously to life and everything starts to look up. John finally has a friend he can count on and Ted, the first living, breathing stuffed animal in history, becomes an international celebrity.
But of course, life takes its unavoidable toll and the two buddies end up becoming beacons of mediocrity, taking bong hits while eating Cap’n Crunch on John’s couch. The only thing keeping the two, well at least John, remotely attached to everyday responsibility is his girlfriend Lori (Mila Kunis, “Friends With Benefits”), who eventually gets fed up with his cannabis-fueled lifestyle and offers him an ultimatum — kick out Ted and move forward with their relationship or find someone else to sleep with. Consequently, the grown man and teddy bear finally attempt to unlatch and hilarity ensues.
At times, that hilarity is stemmed by a slightly inconsistent script, but the faults in the writing are outweighed by material that is largely original and funny. MacFarlane, who also provides the voice of the vulgar teddy bear, does an excellent job of writing around the banality of the plotline. It’s the typical man-child story we’ve seen so many times over the past few years — a man bitching and moaning for two hours before finally coming to terms with his age and responsibility.
But MacFarlane finds a way to use the beaten down nature of the story to his advantage — something he’s done on his TV shows by crafting detached-yet-intelligent dialogue that always manages to maintain an air of self-awareness. In effect, MacFarlane is taking a step back and telling us “yeah, I know this crap’s been put on screen before. I’m here to tell you why it’s stupid.” His approach never appears as heavy handed as, say, the “Scary Movie” franchise because he genuinely tries to imbue his work with those clichés we see every year.
Once we’re hooked in and expecting what we’ve been trained to expect, MacFarlane catches us with the punchline that reminds us why he really is more a satirist than a comedian.