It’s already been almost two weeks since I saw Ted in theaters so you’re going to have to ‘bear’ with me (see what I did there?) through this review as I try to recall some of the film’s finer, and maybe not so fine, moments.
Ted Director: Seth MacFarlane Starring: Mark Wahlberg, Mila Kunis, and Seth MacFarlane as the voice of Ted
It’s probably best to start with the parts I enjoyed the most…
The funny parts are definitely there
I often think that comedies shouldn’t be judged as much for their critical strengths (or weaknesses), and that it’s most important to examine whether or not the film actually made me laugh; it is, after all, a comedy, so the laughing parts should probably be the most important parts. I know that when I went to see Ted in theaters I wasn’t paying for a tight plot, or even great acting. I was paying for the laughs, and I got them. The humor was definitely a bit (okay, maybe a lot) crude, and a lot of the funnier parts were shown in the initial trailers for the film (like the Thunder Buddy song, and Wahlberg’s impressively fluid ‘white trash girl names’ list), but I laughed despite the lack of exposure to entirely new content, so I can’t complain too much there. There are definitely some funny parts that aren’t in the trailers as well, and they are real treats when you get to them in the movie, but the stand out moments that seem to be coming back to me now (like I said, it’s a been two weeks) are still the two scenes I just talked about from the previews–I’m not sure if that’s a good or bad thing, but like I said, I still laughed, and that’s important in a comedy.
There’s not a whole lot of sympathy, but there is some charm
I didn’t feel the characters were entirely easy to sympathize with–they all had pretty strong flaws that I find would make hanging around them in real life quite a bit unbearable (unintended pun there). Ted, the walking, talking bear, is manipulative, crude, and knows how to make for a good time, but it usually comes at a cost to his best friend John’s (Mark Wahlberg) professional and personal life. John is incredibly naive and can’t seem to clue into the way Ted negatively impacts his life, and when he does seem to have his few moments of clarity, doesn’t learn much from his failures. Lori (Mila Kunis) puts up with the duo more than any normal or sane person probably would or even could, and while she’s probably the most realistic character in the film, I feel like any woman who is as intelligent and successful as Lori is supposed to be in the movie would have left Ted and John a while ago.
The characters aren’t entirely sympathetic but they are charming. I mean, c’mon, Ted is a magical teddy bear! And in a world where that is possible, perhaps it is more understandable that John is reluctant to leave his stuffed friend behind. While it is an adult comedy, the film seems to do a pretty good job making you feel like a bit of a kid again–at one point or another, we all probably had that one toy that we wished could come to life and be are friend, and if that toy turned out to be like Ted, could you throw it away 20+ years later? ‘Ted’ is no ‘Toy Story,’ but it still magical–in a somewhat twisted way–and that counts for something.
As for the acting
I don’t think there’s much to complain about here. While I appreciate that Mark Wahlberg doesn’t take himself too seriously, and isn’t afraid to jump into something as ridiculous as his role in Ted, I’m usually not a big fan of his performance in comedies (ex. The Other Guys); however, I did actually enjoy his work in this film–it’s really not too different from his character in The Other Guys, but I think it seemed to work better here. Seth MacFarlane’s voice work as Ted was pretty good, but this should probably be expected since MacFarlane is a seasoned voice actor (Family Guy, American Dad, etc.). I’m not entirely sure how I feel about Mila Kunis as Lori, but she did bring a bit of spunk to her character, making it more believable that she could put up with Ted and John for as long as she did (despite how difficult that still is to believe).
Writing was much like an episode of Family Guy
But I’m not sure that’s entirely a good thing. While I think Seth MacFarlane’s writing works very well in his flat, 2D cartoon worlds of Family Guy and American Dad, I’m not sure it comes across as well in the movie Ted. When live actors are brought into the mix, they’re responsible for a lot more than just reading/acting their own lines and they have to still act and respond to other actors with their whole body–for whatever reason I think this was lacking a bit. It’s possible MacFarlane intended for this type of expression to be lacking, so it would feel more like a live action episode of Family Guy–I’m not sure–but I can’t say I really cared for it. Especially since the animated Ted was so full of expression, it was a bit of an unsettling contrast having a CGI’d bear with more expression than the live actors.
I did laugh. I keep coming back to that. It’s a comedy, I laughed, and I think anything else is expecting a bit too much. Would I have liked to laugh harder? Sure. Could I have not seen the movie and still laughed at the same funny parts in its trailer on YouTube? Sure. But I would have missed out on a chance to see a fairly unique adult comedy, that may have not been laugh-out-loud hilarious, but was still full of a special amount of twisted charm. I may not be in a hurry to watch it again, but I still enjoyed it, and don’t regret dropping the ten bucks for the experience. If you decide to skip this one while it’s in theaters, that’s probably okay, but I would recommend at least dropping a few bucks to rent it when it’s out on DVD/Blu-Ray.
2.7 / 5 cups of coffee