I went into Ted with much trepidation. Not so much because it starred a cursing, drug abusing teddy bear, but because it emanated from the mind of Seth McFarlane. You see, I don’t like to be pandered to and McFarlane has become a shill for the Democratic Party, using his once hilarious animated program, “Family Guy,” as a left-wing propaganda piece. (His atonement attempts with “American Dad” and “The Cleveland Show” leave a lot to be desired).
But, to my pleasant surprise (due in part to my open-mindedness), I really enjoyed this farcical comedy which has vibes of earlier “Family Guy” episodes. Ted, it turns out, is one of the few comedies released in the past few years that will make you laugh. More often than not, it will make you laugh out loud.
Ted tells the story of John Bennett (Mark Wahlberg, “Contraband“), who, as a boy (played by Bretton Manley), receives a Teddy Bear for Christmas. Lonely and friendless, he makes a solemn wish that the toy would be his friend forever. And, of course, in movies like this, the wish comes true and the bear comes to life — complete with the voice of Peter Griffith (McFarlane). Amazed (and almost shocked to death), John’s parents (Ralph Garman and Alex Borstein) grudgingly accept the miracle of a living stuffed animal, and Ted becomes famous for a while — he appears on the covers of dozens of national magazines and is the subject of many TV and radio interviews. Included in this is a great clip of his appearance on the “The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson” (think “Forrest Gump,” here).
But fame comes with a price and with the advent of instantaneous journalism Ted is subjected to more and more embarrassingly funny moments (such as a public arrest in an airport for smuggling “mushrooms”). John during this time does not fare much better and the duo spend much of their adult lives getting drunk, high and watching reruns of the old “Flash Gordon” TV series. John does, however, manage to somehow attract the beautiful and successful Lori (Mila Kunis), who somehow is able to endure his (and the bear’s) vapidness, immaturity and complete irresponsibility.
The laughs come a mile-a-minute in Ted, with some — like from a hilarious party scene where John and Ted meet Sam J. Jones of “Flash Gordon” fame — being heartier than others. The surprising cameos along the way are a big plus, as are the “loving pokes” at past and present American pop culture. In a darker subplot, Giovanni Ribisi, as a father who wants to kidnap Ted for his son is funny in a creepy sort of way. McFarlane, who also co-wrote with fellow “Family Guy” scribbler, Alec Sulkin, deserve a lot of credit for taking an idea that is dumb on the surface and crafting a crude and heartwarming tale that works. (McFarlane deserves some credit for giving employment to many of his television show staff too — Kunis (voice of Meg Griffith), Patrick Warburton (voice of Joe the Cop), Borstein (voice of Lois Griffith) and Patrick Stewart (the narrator and voice of the CIA Director in “American Dad”) all earn a paycheck in Ted).
Be warned, though, Ted is filthy. For its 106 minute running time, it doesn’t let up and, truth be told, after sitting through it I wouldn’t have wanted it any other way.
June 28, 2012 @ 2:16 pm Ogilvey
A shill for the Democratic Party? I think McFarlane is an equal opportunity offender like Trey Parker and Matt Stone of South Park.
June 28, 2012 @ 3:11 pm Liberal Ace
You’re a good critic, Greg. Stick to reviewing movies and keep the politics out of it.
August 15, 2012 @ 1:32 pm Heather
I didn’t see any political overtones. Not sure what the reviewer was watching.
June 28, 2012 @ 5:11 pm Squidoo
Ted was a completely unexpected treat. Its got more than its fair share of offensive material but its also got an emotional side to it. Seth MacFarlane has done a great job.
June 28, 2012 @ 10:14 pm Jannell
I can’t believe I’m excited to see this!
June 29, 2012 @ 3:03 am Beau
Saw midnight showing of this. Whole theater laughed their faces off. I highly recommend seeing it.
June 29, 2012 @ 7:18 am Rondio
I’m going to love this. I have the same sense of humour as mcfarlene does.
June 29, 2012 @ 9:35 am BoredFlat
Even Ebert gave this 4.5/5! I’ll be seeing this later tonight for sure.
June 29, 2012 @ 12:55 pm muskoxxe
June 29, 2012 @ 2:28 pm turtle
I thought going in the vulgarity was going to be at an all time high, but it wasn’t as risque as I had prepared myself for. What I was completely unprepared for was how good the modeling for the bear was-it/he looked so lifelike and blended in perfectly with the RW surroundings.
July 5, 2012 @ 3:21 pm Carpenter
Best comedy since The Hangover. Brilliant.
July 13, 2012 @ 1:40 am Dennis S
It’s actually a very touching movie. You don’t even realize your heart is hurting until its to late.
July 13, 2012 @ 2:28 am kurbistan
GIOVANNI RIBISI IS SO FUCKING HILARIOUS!!!
August 26, 2012 @ 4:28 am Sighlander
“Be warned, though, Ted is filthy.” Its not nearly as filthy as it could have been. McFarlane could have pushed the boundary much further if he wanted to.