Smile Politely

TED: Winnie the Pooh and Family Guy conjoin

TED tells the story of John, an unpopular boy in Boston who gets a teddy bear for Christmas. John wishes that the teddy bear could come to life to be his best friend, and a falling star grants his wish.

Fast forward 27 years, and Ted and John (Mark Wahlberg) have aged. Ted does an amazing amount of crazy things that usually involve John and his girlfriend, Lori (Mila Kunis). The main question of the film develops, which is whether or not John can stop being a boy and become a responsible man who is able to move on from Ted.

TED is basically an extended episode of the animated sitcom Family Guy. The thing about Seth MacFarlane, who wrote and directed TED, is that he goes out of his way to be as offensive as possible. Anyone who was born in the 1980s will enjoy the popular culture references sprayed wildly and often throughout this film. There are references to (the so bad it’s good film) Flash Gordon that would make any child of the 80s squeal with delight. 

Ted loves to smoke weed and is generally irresponsible as a character. He loves to party and flirt with women and really isn’t reliable until John starts losing Lori and failing at his job. In other words, Ted only becomes likeable as a character when things with John have reached a point of no return and Ted has to fix what he has messed up. The fact that Ted can become likeable at any point in the film is a testament to the strength of Seth MacFarlane’s screenplay.

The actors of the film impressed me immensely as the story progressed. I would have never considered Mark Wahlberg for a role in this film, let alone given him the lead. He proves himself to be surprisingly comedic and seems adept at tackling any form of physical or verbal comedy thrown his way. Mila Kunis isn’t given much to do in this film other than look pretty and criticize Ted for being irresponsible. Her character (Lori) has a weak storyline about her boss’s attraction to her, which isn’t something that fleshes out the personality of the character, and thus causes a missing piece in the film. 

There are also a slew of cameos from actors people know currently or remember from the 80s, and all of the jokes involving them work fine.

The film’s music is a standout because the score was written by Family Guy composer Walter Murphy. One negative of the score, however, is the fact that it is essentially portions of the theme song played at the beginning of the film, rather than it being a score that reflects the emotions of the characters as the story progresses.

Overall, I laughed a lot while watching TED and found myself at ease with most of the offensive humor on display, knowing that MacFarlane expects the audience to know how to take a joke. I would love to see Seth MacFarlane tackle something more dramatic next time, but this bear and his best friend, John, were just as lovable as Winnie the Pooh and Christopher Robin.

Four/Five stars

TED is now playing at Goodrich Savoy 16 Theater and Carmike Beverly Cinema 18.

Red Band trailer below:


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