What happens when you give “Family Guy” creator and voice actor Seth McFarlane a $50 million budget, talented actors at his disposal, and completely free reign on a script?
The answer is “Ted”.
McFarlane’s first foray into directing for the big screen stars Mark Wahlberg as John Bennett, a grown man whose best friend is his teddy bear. However, Ted isn’t your average teddy bear, in fact, he’s far from it. When Bennett was just eight he wished his teddy bear would come to life. Suddenly, a Christmas miracle occurred, and when John woke up he found his teddy bear could walk and talk. When word got out about the shocking turn of events, Ted (voiced my McFarlane) became a celebrity.
However, fame was not kind to Ted and as the years wore on, Ted was forgotten about by nearly everyone except John. Now, 27 years later, Ted and John are still best buddies who drink beer, smoke weed, and party together. Did I mention John still lives with his teddy bear? Enter Johns fiancee Lori (played by Mila Kunis). Lori is far too good for the immature slacker and after dating four years, thinks the time has come for Ted to move out. Essentially, the film is about a grown man parting ways with his teddy bear.
Sound absurd? Well, it is. But yet, it works. Rather well actually. Wahlberg is a near comical genius who nails all of his timing perfectly. McFarlane’s voice-over work is fantastic as well, and Kunis holds her own on screen against the two leading men. Interestingly, McFarlane recorded all of his audio off camera, but still on set, and this really allowed the cast to gain a natural chemistry. It’s obvious from the smiles on the characters faces that they had just as good a time shooting the movie as the audience does watching it.
A large Kudos for the film’s success goes to McFarlane, who brings his brand of offensive, envelope-pushing humor to the big screen, but does so in a respectable way. Take the humor of “Family Guy” and inject it with steroids and you have the script for “Ted”. It’s offensive, crude, crass, vulgar, and incredibly raunchy, but yet, it’s ridiculously funny. The story is absurd, but rather than shy away from that, it embraces it and ultimately, that becomes one of the movie’s best qualities. It’s not afraid to shy away from making jokes about the foul-mouthed, booze drinking, pot smoking, protagonist.
Perhaps the most surprising part of “Ted” is the amount of heart that lies underneath all of the dirty jokes and bad words. At the end of the day, “Ted” is about a man accepting that he has to grow up and that he can’t spend the rest of his life talking to his teddy bear. It’s a fairly delicate subject but McFarlane’s smart script finds just the right amount of humor to balance it out.
Although the humor isn’t for everyone, “Ted” is one of the funniest movies I have seen not just this year, but in quite a long time. Not only is it not afraid to be bold, it’s not afraid to reference the plethora of popular culture it has at its disposal.
Four stars out of Five.