If it's crap ... We'll tell you
Walking out of my room, in which the cockroaches and the rats are at war for total supremacy, I can honestly say I wasn't expecting much from Seth MacFarlane's directorial debut, 'Ted.' I expected little more than what I saw in the trailers and anything I've seen in just about every Family Guy episode: Crass, vulgar humor that does tickle the funny bone every now and then, and is good to watch with the guys. Needless to say I held just as much breath for Ted as I did the notion that Fox News would obtain some form of dignity and credibility. But unlike my cynicism towards Fox News, my cynicism for 'Ted' was proven completely unfounded. What I got out of 'Ted' was indeed crass, vulgar humor, but it tickles the funny bone nearly every waking moment of the film, and also the fact that the actors and the script gave its characters genuine development. The end result was a perversely humorous, but genuinely heart-felt film.
The film stars John Bennett (Mark Wahlberg), who as a child, wished upon a shooting star to bring his teddy bear, Ted (Seth MacFarlane) to life as an anthropomorphic being. John shares his entire life with Ted, from his school years to graduation, and they share a mutual appreciation for Flash Gordon (Sam J. Jones cameos as himself). In John's adulthood, he meets Lori Collins (Mila Kunis) the love of his life. The two would go on to date for 4 years, but Ted, who by this point has become a foul-mouthed, pot-smoking hedonist, serves as a constant source of conflict between John and Lori, as Ted symbolizes John's refusal to grow to be a real man.
Each actor does more than their fair share to keep this film up. Mark Wahlberg portrays brilliantly the man who tries to make all the right moves and do all the right things, but reverts back to his childish ways. Mila Kunis' character is the brains and the voice of reason of it all, and she does it perfectly without being overly uptight. And then there's Seth MacFarlane, who's portrayal of Ted is the heart and soul of the whole movie. While the film is about John Bennett's journey from childhood to adulthood, it is ultimately Ted that makes the film role, and is subsequently given the most development. He starts off as nothing more than a crass and vulgar narcissist, but as the end of the film rolls around, we see how truly selfless Ted is, and all he wants is his best friend's happiness. The character that is supposed to serve as the ultimate obstacle between John and Lori actually serves as the source of heart, progress, and moral upstanding throughout the whole movie. Notable performances also come from Sam J. Jones, who cameos as himself, the childhood hero in his Flash Gordon persona to John and Ted. And also a silent cameo from Ryan Reynolds, who portrays a homosexual, awkward man. There's not one actor in this film that deserves to go uncredited, but for the sake of the length of this review, I'm just going to go with the few shout-outs I've given and give a collective thumbs up to everyone. If you have a problem with this, then you can jam rusty sporks in your eyes riddled with lemon juice while listening to the entire Barbara Streisand discography live.
The jokes in this film are definitely something you'd expect from an episode of Family Guy or American Dad, that over-the-top, tasteless humor. But Seth MacFarlane's brand of humor actually transitions very well onto the big screen, and even works better there then it does the 30-minute time-slot. The jokes in the film do not spawn from the some base, so it's not an hour and a half fart or sex joke. Each scene in the movie actually felt like watching different sketches from Saturday Night Live, each with its own scenarios and completely different jokes. If anytime a joke in the film is repeated, it is to draw it full circle for the film's sake, so not an ounce of humor is wasted or overflows. The writing and the humor is clever, funny, very witty, and handled in such a way that it is not so tasteless. My biggest complaints with the film is that it is, for the most part, of no consequence, and John's character early in the film is put in the same situation time and time and again, yet he seems to be to stupid, or just outright refuses to learn from it, and gives in to the little devil on his shoulder way too much.
All and all, 'Ted' is a source of light-hearted, vulgar fun, but also provides a truly heartfelt story that really does teach a valuable lesson about growing up while holding on to that little bit of child within. It is not something I will not recommend to everyone, given the nature of its humor, of course if you can't appreciate this movie for what it is, then you're probably somewhere in between Aryan sympathizer and Westboro Baptist Church activist. It's a movie you really need to keep an open mind and heart about. If you can do it, then I can guarantee that you won't have more light-hearted fun at the movies this year (for the exception of 'Rock of Ages') than you will with 'Ted.'
Let's Break it Down
What Worked: The chemistry between the three lead actors (Wahlberg, MacFarlane and Kunis), but mostly between Wahlberg and Macfarlane. Very believable character development from the main trio. Some truly clever and memorable cameos. Very witty and clever, if a bit inappropriate humor. A truly touching lesson is learned from it all.
What Didn't Work: The majority of the film's events were generally of no consequence, leaving no real short-term lesson to be learned from the characters. The overall stupidity of Wahlberg's character at the beginning of the film leaves you scratching your head, asking "what?"
Will I See it Again: Yes
Rating out of 5: 4/5
Spill.Com Rating: Full Price!