The idea of a Seth MacFarlane film in which the guy plays a CGI bear alongside Mark Wahlberg sounded like the best film ever. Like everything I wanted The Beaver to be and more!
Couldn't wait to see that but somewhere along the line I just assumed the project would end up getting shot down due to it being maybe a bit too out-there for studios to bet their money on. Then a trailer popped up and I was both over the moon and a tad suspicious. There seemed to be lols in there but it all felt much "safer" as a comedy than the Ted I'd subconsciously developed in that twisted-ass mind of mine. The whole foul-mouthed, alcoholic, stoner animated character thing seemed way too obvious of a gag and the novelty of Ted and his wackily non-typically teddy bear ways wore off by the end of the trailers.
But Mark Wahlberg usually being much better in comedies than in serious, dramatic roles (see I Heart Huckabees and The Happening lol) and MacFarlane always a good bet in terms of coming up with out-of-nowhere gross-out/observational/referential humour, I still had hopes that Ted would break the mold and be a stoner comedy the likes of which we'd never seen before.
Well, let's just say it was everything I wanted The Beaver to be and slightly less.
Better than The Beaver, obviously, and yet...
Funny? Sometimes, yes. Hilarious? Never.
Turns out I was right: this is one safe movie. The whole set-up is basically your seen-a-million-times-before rom-com template with someone being a third wheel in a couple's relationship, the guy screwing up then getting the girl back in the end. Family Guy alumni Mila Kunis being the she to Wahlberg's he, this is one bland, un-charismatic couple. Now don't get me wrong: I like the idea of mixing a rom-com template with something much darker and much more twisted but Ted isn't it. Oh sure, there's the occasional poo, dick or fart joke but this is hardly a revolutionary take on the genre now, is it? And no amount of Flash Gordon references, as fun as they are, is going to change that.
Ted is essentially a mix of Roger from American Dad and Brian from Family Guy. There's nothing radically new or particularly memorable about him. I would have personally made the bear into some kind of serial killing maniac, which would have contrasted the rom-com feel of the film much more convincingly and opened it up for loads of very inappropriate jokes but never mind. I'm a nobody. He's got the occasional good line here and there and the fight scene between him and Wahlberg is admittedly very funny. It's very Peter Griffin vs Big Chicken but it works, it's pretty great to see a live-action version of it.
Another tonal inconsistency I didn't really care for is the basis for the Ted/Wahlberg relationship. Sure it makes sense story-wise to have Ted being given to his friend as a kid and coming to life through some wish or whatever but as the film is not nearly dark, smart or mischievous enough, a lot of the time it feels like an actual kids' movie! It tries to parody that type of movie with some Patrick Stewart narration and references to the likes of Taylor Lautner but that's just not enough to ensure the kind of jokey/adult tone they're trying to establish. Why is the film even trying to have a heart? You have a whore taking a shit on the ground at one point, are we seriously meant to feel for the couple's relationship and that bear's well-being after stuff like that?
I think even You, Me and Dupree was more convincing in what it was trying to do...
Anyway, on the whole it's fair to say that Ted is a bit of a mess both in terms of tone and as a comedy. Parts of it are legitimately funny but so many jokes just fall flat and you start picturing what the film would have been like with better actors and better jokes... as you're watching it! Not a good thing. I must say the endless references feel so forced half the time it reminded me of why I couldn't stand the early seasons of Family Guy in the first place. The ever-brilliant Patrick Warburton is also underused, which surely counts as a crime against humanity. Ted is a predictable, sadly not original, funny and clever enough movie but if all you're in it for is to get a kind of super light-hearted live-action Family Guy vibe then you should enjoy it ok. It's fine and has its moments just don't expect to remember it always.
A slight disappointment but enjoyable enough.