Starring: Mark Wahlberg, the voice of Seth MacFarlane, Mila Kunis, Joel McHale, Giovanni Ribisi
Rated R for Crude and Sexual Content, Pervasive Language, and Some Drug Use
I am a huge "Family Guy" fan. It's streaming on NetFlix, and I watch episodes of the animated comedy over and over again. The writing is strong, the voice acting is excellent and the humor is frequently hilarious. So when it was announced that creator Seth MacFarlane was coming out with a live action film, I was excited. It was worth the wait. "Ted" is hysterical.
Young John Bennett (Bretton Manley) is a lonely kid living in Boston. He has no friends and his parents don't take him seriously. One Christmas he gets a large teddy bear that he names, of all things, Ted. One night, he makes a wish that Ted would come to life. He makes his wish on the night when a shooting star passes, and what do you know? Ted does come to life.
Trouble starts when Ted grows up. John (now played by Wahlberg) is a 35 year old man-child who spends his time smoking pot with his teddy bear. He has a girlfriend, the lovely Lori (Kunis), but she wants Ted to move out so that they can take their relationship to the next level. But John is wary about abandoning his best friend, and Ted doesn't like the idea at all. The battle lines are drawn, and the question becomes, who will win John's attention?
The acting is as strong as the writing. Mark Wahlberg, who is good as an everyman, gives a terrific performance as a man who is in a state of arrested development. Ted is a good friend, but he's also a bad influence. He's made quite the catch with Lori, but her patience is wearing thin. As Lori, Mila Kunis is both sexy and mature. We sympathize with her enough so that she becomes a real person, not a bitchy party pooper. Lori is far different from Kunis' character, Meg, on "Family Guy." But the real star of the show is, obviously, MacFarlane. Portraying Ted with a heavy Boston accent and a foul mouth, Ted has all the best lines and antics.
MacFarlane has always been a great, but inconsistent writer. Not every joke he throws at the audience works, but when they hit (and they often do) the results are hilarious. Some of the funniest scenes are when Ted tries to botch meetings with a grocery store manager (played by character actor Bill Smitrovich). His hilarious attempts to get turned down backfire with hilarious results. One of the jokes pushes the level of the R rating as well (this movie is not for kids, although it does follow the formula for a kids movie).
There's a twisted subplot involving a creepy guy named Donny (Ribisi) who wants Ted for his just as creepy son, Robert (Aedin Mincks). Although this allows for some funny jokes by Ted, it's a little too weird for this movie. Also, some of the acting, particularly in the beginning, is pretty bad. Stick with it. Once the news clips about Ted start (one would rightly think that a teddy bear coming to life would be big news), the film takes off.
Lots of big laughs is a must for any comedy that wants to be a success. But "Ted" takes things to the next level because I actually cared about the characters. None of this is particularly groundbreaking, but it is very funny. Not for kids, although some of the lines (especially the "Thunder" song) are going to be repeated by middle schoolers who have sneaked in.