Review: TED

By Laurie Coker

Rating: B

I can’t remember having a favorite toy as a child – perhaps because I was such a tomboy, preferring toy guns and dirt fights to teddy bears and dress up. When I first saw the trailer for Ted, starring Mark Wahlberg and Mila Kunis, I chuckled to myself and pushed the film out of my mind – what a silly, strangely sad concept, I thought. Little did I know that Seth MacFarlane (creator of television’s Family Guy) could make the concept of a man, who as a boy wished for his teddy bear to be real and it happening, work; and then go even further to the boy now man having to deal with living his life around his fun-loving, envelope-pushing plush toy.

Macfarlane co-wrote, directs and voices the Teddy, Ted, for his first full feature film and as much I thought I’d hate it, I did not. In fact, I found myself laughing raucously and enjoying the silly story and accepting the at times, totally trashy humor. Wahlberg is John Bennett and Kunis plays Lori, his beautiful and mostly understanding girlfriend of four years. But when Ted takes first place over her one time too many, she soon tires of the twosome and gives John an ultimatum, causing him to make and ultimately break promises.

Ted really is your standard buddy movie and rom-com tale. Little is fresh there, but add the fact that Ted is a stuffed animal come to life, and Macfarlane manages to have a twist that peculiarly does work. It helps that Ted, the living bear, is accepted by the community at large and is for a time, the toast of the town, even appearing on the Johnny Carson Show. This allows Ted to act as and interact with humans. He has a hotty girl friend, spends time smoking a bong with his pal and generally lives off John, who is kind of a slacker himself.

Where I typically draw the line, jokes about 9/11 and others aimed at catastrophic illness, gay people, tropical fish and even James Franco, somehow seem a tad less offensive and far funnier coming out of a two foot tall bear. Macfarlane’s Ted spews out his one-liners and quips as effortlessly as Robert Downey Jr. or Vince Vaughn, and his co-stars hang right in there with him. In one scene John and Ted get into a hotel room destroying fist fight and I laughed myself silly. I just couldn’t help it. Animators do an amazing job with Ted and the live cast interacts well. It’s nearly possible to forget that Ted is a stuffed bear. Kunis and Wahlberg impressed me with the seriousness of their characters amidst all the obvious asininity, never faltering from playing it straight and both are surprising funny when necessary.

Ted is at once sexist, bigoted and downright racist, but when ones notes that it is all encompassing – leaving no one out of its playful line of attack – it becomes apparent that Macfarlane is poking fun of everyone, even himself, because we are all pretty ridiculous to some degree. Perhaps things would be simpler if we all took things a bit less seriously. Ted is packed with jokes, gags, pratfalls, and surprising cameos and most of it works hilariously. A side story with Giovanni Ribisi and an end zinger from this had me rolling.

Ted might just be the funniest film I have seen so far this year. Macfarlane manages to mix truly tasteless humor with a sweet story and that isn’t easy. I know feelings were mixed as the audience left the theatre, but I am a fan. I am placing a B in my grade book. The R-rated Ted might not appeal to everyone, but it is sure to be a box office hit.

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