‘Ted’ is one of the funniest films I’ve seen in the cinema for a longggggg time, perhaps since last summer’s UK runaway hit ‘The Inbetweeners Movie’. The films couldn’t be any further apart though, one’s about four teenage lads on a boozy holiday, the other about a middle-aged (almost) man whose best friend is a talking teddy bear, and surrounds the many adventures they encounter…right.
The premise becomes established with an opening ‘flashback’ sequence in which we see a younger version of Mark Wahlberg’s character (John Bennett), wishing on Christmas night, for his teddybear to become his best friend. The wish is granted and a beast is born. As Patrick Stewart’s narration (no I’m NOT making this up!) tells us, Teddy, later shortened to the titular ‘Ted’, becomes a celebrity, appearing on talk shows, and news stories everywhere, because he is a bloody talking teddybear! All of this helps us get a feel for the character and also shows the long-term bond Ted and John have, which is integral for the sometimes non-existent plot to function as it is. Fast-forward to the present, and a 35-year-old John and Ted are still best friends, but laze around on the sofa all day smoking pot, watching ‘Flash Gordon‘ and living thoroughly average, yet fun-filled lives. John’s 4-year romantic relationship with Lori (Mila Kunis), is slightly far-fetched in the sense that someone like her (a high-flying businesswoman), would put up with an ageing car salesman, with a teddybear as his best friend. Despite this, it just works at the time, the wisecracks are flying, and you don’t really dwell on such circumstances. Lori, however, wants Ted to move out, so the couple can move on with their lives, a task that proves hard to commit too…
Wahlberg is solidly funny in his role, something which noone would’ve said a decade or so ago, when he was known as one of Hollywood’s most serious actors. With 2010’s ‘The Other Guys’, in which he starred opposite the legend that is Will Ferrell, and now ‘Ted’, Wahlberg is carving out a double career for himself, as the action star many love, and the comic funny-man, such versatility can only come in handy these days. Mila Kunis again proves reliable and is increasingly becoming well-know to audiences of different interests, the arty (‘Black Swan’), the rom-coms (‘Friends with Benefits’) and the straight-comedies (‘Family Guy’ and ‘Ted’). She’s able and pitches in with a few one-liners of her own, her relationship with MacFarlane blooming, after the success on television. MacFarlane, himself, plays our heroic teddybear, and is a star. His voice is eerily similar to Peter Griffin of ‘Family Guy’, marking himself as familiar to audiences, but Ted is his own character, who MacFarlane plays to a tee. It’ll be interesting to see if he can be as funny physically in a film, instead of hiding behind animation or CGI, if he isn’t it could prove to be his downfall, Seth might want to hang on for a little while yet then!
Seth MacFarlane, in his first feature film, has done a cracking job. Writing, producing, directing AND starring, there were fears he’d taken too much on, and would flop with his first picture. However, he’s made the transition from the small to the big screen with relative ease, and with a number of his esteemed and trusted ‘Family Guy’, cohorts. Alex Borstein, the voice of ‘Lois’, has a small role as John’s mum at the beginning, and the Griffin family’s disabled neighbour Joe’s voice (Patrick Warburton), plays the hilarious role of a work colleague of John’s. The strength of said characters, will have allowed McFarlane a base to propel from, a headstart over other first-time film-makers. ‘Ted’s constant orchestral soundtrack, often featured in MacFarlane’s TV hits, returns here, never quite becoming annoying, but it is a constant reminder of MacFarlane’s roots, and perhaps something he should consider moving away from for his next picture. With such success, MacFarlane can start planning ahead for more big-screen adventures, if he plays his cards right, he could become the next Judd Apatow, who has a hand in almost every mainstream comedy in America right now. Who knows, perhaps the long-rumoured ‘Family Guy’ movie, will also get made?!
Whilst the trio of Ted, John and Lori are obviously the main stars, their interactions with the strong supporting cast, is also a winner. ‘Community’s Joel McHale, may not be very well-known to the masses in any territory around the world outside of his homeland, but his turn as a money and power mad boss, to Kunis’ ‘Lori’, sees him step it up a mark, proving to be a reliable sideshow to the main events. He pretty much plays the same arrogant character as in the TV show, but this mainstream comedy, should see him finally become recognised, as more than just a stand-up comic and TV actor. When Ted finally manages to grab a job at the local supermarket, his boss (played by another minor American actor by the name of Bill Smitrovich) is a weathered, angry man. The interactions between himself and his CGI teddybear employee, provide the funniest moments for me, that involve a turnip and a few uses for it…The other characters to stand out were the creepy father and son (or was it lovers?!) pairing of Giovanni Ribisi and Aedin Minks, were brilliant, a creepy duo that came out with some amazing one-liners, and THAT dance scene to a certain 80’s classic. A truly great onslaught of cameo roles, some the UK audience might not quite get, others they definitely will, pushed the film up a notch for me, you never truly know where to look next, who is going to turn up, what outrageous stunt are they going to pull?! The more I merely think about some of the cameos, the more I want to see this film again!
There’s a reason why ‘Ted’, was such a financial juggernaut in its native US, multiplying it’s modest £50 million budget by 5, because it is clearly an American movie through and through. The onslaught of jokes was thick and fast, but I’m not ashamed to say I didn’t ‘get’ some of them, pop-culture references galore ensure those around a couple of decades ago will have something to laugh at, but even the most ardent ‘yankophile’s will have a problem getting just a fraction of the many one-liners throughout the 1 hour 46 minute laugh-a-thon, that is ‘Ted’.
I really enjoyed ‘Ted’, it managed to entertain, make me laugh, but surprisingly, there were a few moments of down-time, where messages were clear and learnt on-screen. It’s crude, rude and lewd (was waiting to fit that in!), but it has a heart, and is hilarious.