Ted is the first time Seth MacFarlane has left the warm, cozy, comfortable bed of television. Think of it as that moment when you’re in a deep sleep snuggling with your blanket (only his cost much more than your’s did) then the alarm goes off and it’s time to venture off into the real world. The real world for MacFarlane, in this case, is writing, directing, and kinda staring in a feature film. The concept is ridiculous, yet somehow brilliantly simple. What if a lonely child got a teddy bear for Christmas and loved it so much that he wished it would come to life? And because this is a movie it did!
Cut to 27 years later and both the guy and the bear who now goes simply by “Ted” are loser burnouts with no lives. The man is played by Mark Wahlberg and is dating Mila Kunis who is obviously stunning and holds her own when called upon to be funny, however it’s clear that she doesn’t quite fit in with the two “guys” because they grew up together. So that’s the set up.
The movie is very Family Guyish. By that I mean, while it doesn’t have the constant cut-aways that people are getting tired of, “This reminds me of that time when…” it does have a ton of pop culture references, especially to the 1980s. If you get them, they are hilarious, if you miss them they fall flat and it’s a line that doesn’t make sense. I bet I could go back and find a dozen references to 80s movies and TV shows throughout this movie, including one that I won’t ruin for you because it was the highlight of the movie for me and I doubled over with laughter the moment I saw Wahlberg’s outfit. Ironically, it was the only flashback scene in the movie and it was an homage to my favorite comedy of all time. I asked my Dad about it later and he said it went completely over his head because he didn’t remember the scene from the original movie.
Having said that, there are the basic dirty punch-line jokes that you saw in the trailer throughout and Ted is very well voiced by MacFarlane. He seems like a normal guy that just happens to be a teddy bear, he also does sound a bit like Peter Griffin but it’s not too distracting. I was most impressed with the music in this movie, make a point to listen to the score if you go check it out. MacFarlane is a big fan of big band 1920-1930s era music and he puts it to good use here, rarely do you hear it in a movie today and I thought it worked really well.
The downfall, in the end was that I just never felt a sense of fear or care for these characters. When it was over, I didn’t feel like I learned anything about them or felt like they learned anything new about themselves. It was like, “Okay, so we’re just back to where we started?” I know it’s a comedy and it’s not supposed to be an after-school special but when you have a big emotional scene at the end, I think it needs to mean something and to me it didn’t. I will say, though, that I am excited for Seth MacFarlane as a film director and I hope he stays in the film game because this was a great first effort.
I only recommend this if you are a fan of Seth MacFarlane’s other work. However, even then be aware that while funny, the story is sub-par.