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Overall Rating

Awesome: 10%
Worth A Look: 27.5%
Just Average40%
Pretty Crappy: 22.5%
Sucks: 0%

4 reviews, 16 user ratings

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by Brett Gallman

"A bearable feature film debut for Seth MacFarlane."
3 stars

Since the average episode of “Family Guy” approximates what I think an ADD-addled brain would look like, I was a little dubious that Seth MacFarlane would be able to tell a sustained feature length story without repeatedly digressing with a parade of non-sequiturs and pop culture references. With “Ted,” he does at least accomplish this much--I can say for certain that he has made a movie, and it does tell a story that’s remarkably direct by his standards.

Of course, the setup is anything but straightforward--as a lonely, outcast child in 1985, John Bennett makes a Christmas wish for his teddy bear to come to life, and it does. The two vow to be best friends forever and do so even when Ted has a brief brush with celebrity fame (his bizarre existence smartly isn’t kept a secret--in fact, he goes on The Tonight Show and busts Johnny Carson’s chops in one of the film’s funnier bits). After 27 years, John (Mark Wahlberg) and Ted (voiced by MacFarlane) are a couple of blue collar Bostonian burn-outs, though that hasn’t stopped the former from having a successful relationship with Lori (Mila Kunis)--at least until she gets tired of sharing John with his childhood toy.

“Ted” is another “bros before hos” movie out of the “I Love You, Man” and “You, Me, and Dupree” mold, only the third wheel in this case is a foul-mouthed teddy bear. It’s often typical one-note MacFarlane stuff that operates on an arbitrarily absurd premise with an incongruous disconnect; just as “Family Guy” has a diabolical talking baby and “The Cleveland Show” has an actual working-class grizzly bear, “Ted” has its title character spouting all sorts of obscenities and vulgarities (MacFarlane doesn’t embrace the R rating so much as he tongue-kisses it). The gambit is often funny enough, and it eventually melts away because Macfarlane has somewhat inconceivably made a pretty heartening and believable friendship story with a side of fart jokes.

Wahlberg’s chemistry with both his furry CGI companion and Kunis goes a long way in making it work; his boyish, man-child demeanor is a bit at odds with his usual tough guy with a heart of gold shtick, and he’s laid pretty bare here as a pot-smoking schlub whose career aspirations amount to a $38k management position at a shitty rental car firm. Kunis hangs tough with him and is reasonably flustered without being a vindictive shrew, while Ted sidles up right in between the both of them, the vulgar wedge that remains endearing despite his tendency to wreck everything. By the end of the film, I was genuinely wincing when Ted dangled precariously high atop Fenway Park (when in Boston, right?) to elude capture by a fanatic (Giovanni Ribisi, refreshingly dialed down to being merely creepy) that’s wanted the bear all to himself since the 80s.

A lot of the humor in “Ted” is obviously wince-worthy, too. There’s a scene where Ted and John chastise Lori for a lazy attempt at humor, a not so subtle self-aware wink that MacFarlane hopes will let him off the hook for his most base and vulgar attempts at humor. Everything’s fair game: gay jokes, racist jokes, 9/11 jokes, and scat jokes of varying quality abound in an auto-piloted procession. In interviews, MacFarlane often comes off as being much smarter than his work often makes him out to be. This is not to say that “Ted” is completely dumb--it sometimes hints at subversion, but it doesn’t go all the way (or even half-way, really), preferring instead to march to the expected rhythm of potty humor and clichéd sentiment.

MacFarlane does saddle us with his trademark pop culture reverence and random gags in the form of cameos and references that are funny but speak to the inherent emptiness of MacFarlane’s shtick: a lot of his effectiveness hinges on other people’s work, so a good chunk of “Ted” coasts on an extended (but hilarious) “Flash Gordon” joke, and the director of course can’t resist at “Star Wars” reference or three.

They’re at least well-integrated--it’s not like “Family Guy” where the story randomly cuts away to a completely different scene to force in its references with reckless abandon, and their mere presence is certainly expected. I suppose it’s MacFarlane’s auterist stamp at this point, some kind of hyper-perversion of the wink-wink-nod-nod stuff ushered in by Tarantino and Kevin Smith. Some even come with irritating over-explanations just in case you’re not in on it (for example, it’s not enough that Brandon Routh is the butt of a joke, as we also have to hear a diatribe about how “Superman Returns” sucked).

For a film that’s playing at such obscenity and crassness, “Ted” is actually rather mannered and orderly; all of the setups have the correct punch-lines that you can set your watch to, and, despite its outlandish central concept, it never feels daring. “Ted” is a completely fine, safe film that’s often fun thanks to its numerous enjoyable performances. Joel McHale’s dry, deadpanned performance as Lori’s smarmy and entitled boss is perfect casting, and Jessica Barth is a revelation as Ted’s white-trash and thick-accented girlfriend, Tami-Lynn. Other familiar faces (and voices) appear, some apropos of nothing, but I’d be lying if Patrick Stewart waxing poetic about the awesomeness of Apache helicopters didn’t have me chuckling.

“Ted” is full of chuckles. It’s not an uproarious film by any means, merely a mildly rowdy one that appeals to that part of us that finds a cursing, stoner Teddy Ruxpin wannabe to be funny. And if that’s not enough, there’s crapping hookers, cocaine binges, and characters wishing Lou Gherig’s disease upon each other. That’ll do, Seth. That’ll do.

link directly to this review at http://www.hollywoodbitchslap.com/review.php?movie=23719&reviewer=429
originally posted: 07/01/12 16:55:32
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User Comments

2/26/13 David Hollingsworth Raunchy, but the good kind. 4 stars
12/29/12 mr.mike By the end it was gasping for air. But then you knew that. 3 stars
10/22/12 Stephanie Raunchy hilarity. 4 stars
10/01/12 Dr.Lao Jeez Hoillywood, if you're going to make a one-joke movie at least make it a good joke! 2 stars
8/29/12 Delcia Pena The movie was good. 3 stars
7/24/12 Mick Gillies Oh dear-bad jokes, bad story, bad idea 2 stars
7/14/12 Jeff Wilder Lots of laughs. But 20 minutes too long and the joke wears thing quickly. 4 stars
7/09/12 Man Out Six Bucks So completely focused on bodily functions and angst that it's an ethnic Jewish film 2 stars
7/09/12 Andy Very funny and enteraining movie 4 stars
7/08/12 Ming Very funny movie but with a fithly mouth 3 stars
7/08/12 Monday Morning I hate political correctness, so loved this. SMacF's brand of humor is outstanding! 5 stars
7/06/12 Jenni FYI the voice of Ted and Peter Griffin is Seth Macfarlane 4 stars
7/02/12 James Thomas loved it made laugh my ass off 5 stars
7/02/12 Marty Extended Family Guy episode. Funny parts. Cared a little too much about its theme. Raunch. 3 stars
7/01/12 ron instant classic! 5 stars
6/29/12 stu funniest movie ever made 5 stars
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  29-Jun-2012 (R)
  DVD: 11-Dec-2012


  DVD: 11-Dec-2012

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