Ted (2012) – Movie Review
Every now and then a movie comes along that looks quite promising. There’s an amusing premise, a strong cast and a creative pedigree stemming from one of the most successful animated comedy series ever. From this, Ted – the first feature film from Family Guy and American Dad creator, Seth McFarlane – sets up some fair expectations. Unfortunately it falls flat and floundering and doesn’t deliver on any of its potentially promising notes.
The potentially amusing premise goes like this: John, a loner kid, makes a Christmas wish that his teddy bear can really talk so they can be best friends forever. Magical talking teddy bear, Ted (Seth McFarlane), finds a brief B-grade celebrity status before he and his bestie (Mark Wahlberg) end up as stoner underachievers. Meanwhile, John’s girlfriend, Lori (Mila Kunis) is getting sick and tired of waiting for her no-hoper boyfriend to grow up and move on from his childhood teddy bear.
Take every stoner buddy movie you’ve ever seen and combine it with a live action episode of Family Guy and add a talking teddy bear and you’ll find Ted. It’s a low brow, incredibly obvious comedy that even with a depraved stoner teddy bear as its main character fails to display even a hint of originality.
Like Family Guy, Ted reaches to the far edges of taste for its humour but unfortunately the movie rarely grasps anything besides fart gags and uncomfortable sex jokes with the occasional bit of borderline racism thrown in. Parents, this is definitely not a teddy bear movie for the kiddies. There was an occasional mild chuckle (most of which came from Flash Gordon references), but the whole hour and a half was mostly spent waiting for the awfully predictable plot to play out and watching bad jokes fall hard and fast and crawl away to die.
It’s unfortunate that even with such a strong cast, Ted could not be redeemed. Mark Wahlberg has proven he can do funny and he can do quirky and seeing more of that might have lifted this movie out of the gutter even just a little. Community’s Joel McHale did a fair job as Lori’s sleazy boss and rival for her affection and it would have been nice to see him in a bigger role besides this marginal character.
What Giovanni Ribisi was doing wasting his monumental talent in his bad guy role here is beyond me. Ribisi’s character was actually one of the strongest aspects of this film. A weirdo obsessed with Ted since he was a child is now determined to get the talking teddy for his own son. It would have been to the film’s benefit to see more of this character and situation and less of the tired and banal relationship versus friendship plot. This is just one of the ways in which Ted could have been improved on. I mean, he’s a foul mouthed teddy bear! Is this seriously the best plot the creators could come up with? There’s a real sense in this film that “foul mouthed teddy bear” was the limit of the pitch and creative process and everything else was made up without care or consideration in less time than it took the film to play out.
Ted is riddled with contemporary humour and references that won’t mean much a decade from now so there’s no built-in longevity here, not that it would matter much in such a weak and forgettable film. Though perhaps Ted might be memorable as Seth McFarlane’s first and oh so disappointing feature film. If you’re a diehard Family Guy fan, then Ted may have something to offer you. If you like good movies however, you’re best to look elsewhere.
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