Ted, 2012, USA
I need to give Seth MacFarlane some credit. I’m not a fan of much of his work because I find the humour is too “easy” and juvenile, but Ted was pretty freaking hilarious. I might even have a little more faith in his ability to host the Oscars.
John (Bretton Manley as a child, Mark Wahlberg as an adult) is a lonely little boy who receives a toy bear for Christmas. He wishes the bear was real and wakes up to a living, breathing Ted (MacFarlane). They grow up together and at 35, John lives with Ted and his girlfriend of four years, Lori (Mila Kunis). John and Ted smoke pot, and John’s life has stalled. Lori is impatient for him to grow up and encourages him to make Ted move out on his own. Will John be able to grow up and beyond his best friend, or will he lose Lori forever?
I really appreciated the high-concept twist on an idea that has been played out on film numerous times. “Manchild” characters who place their bromance above their significant other are commonplace in pop culture today, and this was a refreshing twist on the idea, and for this reason, the film works. The humour is quite dirty, and while it occasionally pushed my own tolerance for gross-out humour, it still had me laughing.
I did find that the film weakened a bit in the last act. It felt like MacFarlane didn’t know how to end the film, so it takes a rather awkward, disturbing and dark turn. This was all foreshadowed, but I think MacFarlane should have gone in a different direction entirely, in my opinion. It all seemed like a bit of a ruse in order to get to the ending he wanted.
Wahlberg was great as John, and Kunis was absolutely hilarious. MacFarlane is very adept at voice work, as we’ve all seen from Family Guy and American Dad!, but MacFarlane uses the same voice for Ted as he uses for Peter Griffin. It’s slightly distracting, but this is alluded to in the film for a laugh.
An interesting bit of trivia is that both Wahlberg and MacFarlane were scheduled to be on Flight 11 – one of the planes that hit the World Trade Center on 9/11. I thought of this during the film – especially when a 9/11 joke was made. I had to wonder how comfortable MacFarlane is writing 9/11 jokes when he so narrowly avoided losing his life that day. However, humour can also be a coping mechanism, so writing such a joke could be cathartic for him. I wasn’t offended by the joke, but I imagine some people might have been – not that the possibility of offending people would ever keep MacFarlane from using a joke in one of his TV shows or in a film.
The film is full of celebrity cameos, and it was a lot of fun catching them throughout the film. I’m not going to reveal who they are, because it would spoil the surprise!
I was surprised by how much I enjoyed Ted. It was funny and surprisingly heartfelt.