I want my teddy bear
So, this is pretty behind the times. I was going to see Ted when it was actually new in theaters, but then I didn’t. (It turns out having a movie review blog costs a lot of money. Who woulda thunk?) But then weeks later the opportunity arose again, and I figured, why not? I don’t need money anyway. So (teddy) bear with me for this one late review. I promise there will be something more current published this weekend.
You’d think, since I just dipped into my aforementioned limited money supply and dropped $10.50 on what was more or less one super-sized sitcom episode, I’d be pretty upset, right? But for some reason I can’t bring myself to be mad at Ted’s furry little face (even if I did find his eyes to be too far apart to be cute). I probably should be mad: it’s not like Seth MacFarlane (Peter Griffin of Family Guy, director, writer, and voice of Ted) has constructed a movie audiences will still be contemplating three minutes after it’s over, and it’s not like his script brings anything startlingly original to the table. But the movie’s robust tackling of adult humor (seriously, your kid may want to see the new movie about the adorable teddy bear, but it wouldn’t be healthy for their fragile development) provides enough laughs to keep even a grumpy old man like me satisfied.
Back in 1985, there lived a young boy named John Bennett (played by Bretton Manley as a kid, and Marky Mark Wahlberg as an adult) who has difficulty making friends. One Christmas morning his parents give him a teddy bear who quickly fulfills the role of best bud. The kid un-creatively names it Ted, and that night wishes on a magic shooting star that Ted could talk back to him. The next morning his wish comes true, and though a walking and talking teddy bear initially freaks everybody out, he and John promise to be best bros forever.
Fast forward to 2012, where Ted and John (who at the age of 35 is employed at a DMV) waste the majority of their time smoking weed together in their apartment in Boston. John’s girlfriend of four years Lori (Mila Kunis), a successful office worker, desperately wants Ted to get his own apartment and job so she and John can move on with their lives. Caught in between the two most important people (well, person and bear) in his life, John must choose between romance and teddy bromance before he ends up losing both. Spoilers he loses both.
The story is entertaining for as long as the humor is in the driver’s seat. MacFarlane’s script spends too much of its second half trying to get us to sympathize with John who spoilers has lost the bear and the bride-to-be, when really we just want to fast forward to the next joke. There’s a subplot where soft-spoken creeper Donny (Giovanni Ribisi) wishes to buy Ted for his pudgy and alarmingly destructive son Robert (Aedin Mincks). The story thread is worthwhile for bringing a few of the movie’s best jokes (Ribisi is hilariously spot on as a nervous, self-conscious father clueless to the world around him, and Aedin Mincks serves as a lovably hate-able punching bag and is totally going to be the next Taylor Lautner) but the film lingered too long on the ~exciting!~ pseudo-action scenes that don’t really fit into the script in the first place. Let’s be real: in a comedy, no good guy is at risk of an unhappy ending, so there was an overwhelming sense of pointlessness for much of the second half.
In addition, I couldn’t help constantly wondering why someone as hot and successful Lori would be so dedicated to her loser boyfriend and his teddy bear. Her dedication to the relationship is the only thing less believable than a talking teddy. On more than one occasion the script tries to convince us that Wahlberg is ‘the hottest guy in all of Boston.’ I don’t know whether that’s supposed to be Lori’s reason for staying, or a massive diss to the city.
Most of the time, however, I excused the flimsy writing for the strength of the jokes. The cast was strong, with almost everyone bringing their fair share of laughs (except the usually hilarious Joel McHale, who was wasted as Lori’s sleezeball boss, Rex). While I have to give the funniest in class award to the Rabisi and Mincks tag team, the honorable mention goes to Jessica Barth as white trash grocery store worker Tami-Lynn, who left a strong positive impression despite her stinted screen time. Unsurprisingly, Kunis, Wahlberg, and MacFarlane served as a hilarious comedic trio. MacFarlane’s broad sense of humor (it ranges from sex jokes to poop jokes!) guides the movie like a lighthouse.
(Side note: Only MacFarlane is allowed to write for Ted. The surplus of Ted joke accounts on twitter is getting pretty freakin’ monotonous. I would say it was “getting unfunny”, but it was never funny in the first place. If I follow you, I beggeth stop retweeting him, I’ve seen every one of his tweets like eight times, thanks, and I still have ‘The Person Below This Tweet’ to deal with.)
Apparently, a Ted television show is now in the works. I know I just said that Ted was pretty much a sitcom in movie format, but why do I still feel like the world isn’t ready for this? Please be one of those “oh, anyone can edit Wikipedia” cases. I really don’t want to regret that $10.50.