Ted is the first feature film from writer/director Seth MacFarlane, who is most known as the creator of animated TV series Family Guy and American Dad. After the success of those series, it wasn’t a big surprise that he’d take on a big-budget comedy film. Ted is a simple story about a boy, John, who wishes his stuffed teddy bear Ted would come to life and be his best friend forever. His wish is granted and Ted becomes John’s greatest friend.
Unfortunately, John is now 35 and still has his teddy bear. What follows is a very funny movie about childhood dreams and the love of friends and family, wrapped up in some of the filthiest humor of 2012.
Mark Wahlberg plays John, a man more than a little lost in life as he has become dependent on his stuffed bear for advice. John’s girlfriend, Lori (Mila Kunis), puts up with all of his shortcomings out of her love for him. She wants him to grow-up and become the man she needs, but the only way for him to do that is to part ways with Ted (voiced by Seth MacFarlane).
Both Wahlberg and Kunis play it straight, so when they’re talking to a CGI bear it’s as believable as the rest of the movie. I believe their performance is enhanced by MacFarlane’s presence on set as Ted, who benefited from a new type of motion-capture allowing MacFarlane to interact with the cast in a much more believable way. Unlike older CGI-human interactions, I never got the feeling that Wahlberg and Kunis were talking to empty air.
All three performers have great chemistry in the movie. It could be argued that Wahlberg is a little old for the role, but the film uses that as joke fodder. The human leads work well together, successfully portraying a believable romance with two sympathetic perspectives. MacFarlane brings his usual funny voice-work to the table, mixing in Peter Griffin and Brian from Family Guy with a few other well-known favorites. (Though really, would you have doubted that he could voice a rude-talking stuffed teddy bear?) He makes you care about Ted and want to see that dirty talking bear have a happy ending just as much as you do John and Lori.
The CGI on Ted is pretty good. with only a few occasional spotty patches. One little touch that I thought to be really nice was that as Ted gets older and more worn out, it’s reflected in his coat acquiring rubbed off-patches, dirt, etc. This helps make him feel like a real character with presence instead of just a computer image.
Overall, I found Ted a very funny, live-action, R-rated Family Guy. The first twenty minutes, in particular, reinforce this, and the movie even has some of the familiar comedic cut-aways signature to the Family Guy series. But once the movie’s plot thickens, those vanish and are replaced with deeper 1980s references to movies and TV shows, which should also be familiar to a MacFarlane fan. People who remain ignorant of 80s pop culture should still be entertained, but real fanatics will get an extra bit of kick out of the jokes in the same formula that’s worked for MacFarlane in his shows.
So if you like that kind of thing, then there’s a pretty good chance you’re going to enjoy Ted. Hrab your best drinking buddy and go enjoy this. It’s hilarious and makes you remember what it was like to make wishes as a kid, but then have that wish turn really dirty with sex, drugs, bad 90s alternative rock and hilarity.