daniel cohen reviews the #1 comedy in america…
Plot: When he was eight years old, John Bennett (Mark Wahlberg) wished that his toy teddy bear (Seth MacFarlane) would come to life. John’s wish came true, and the two have been best friends ever since. But when John’s girlfriend Lori (Mila Kunis) is sick of Ted hanging around John all the time, she asks him to grow up, wanting Ted to move out, forever changing their relationship.
I’m surprised it’s taken this long for Seth MacFarlane to get a movie off the ground. For those who don’t know, MacFarlane is the brains behind Family Guy, one of the most successful primetime animated shows of all time. He also has his hand in American Dad and The Cleveland Show, so maybe he’s just really, really busy. Regardless, this is a guy who probably should have been directing movies a long time ago. What impresses me about MacFarlane is that his brand of comedy has always been the same ever since he came onto the scene with Family Guy, yet it’s still really funny. What else can you say about a movie where the title character talks exactly like the main character on his show that’s been airing for over ten years, yet it’s still hilarious in this movie. That’s the sign of a very talented man.
What surprised me about Ted is that it wasn’t as zany as I thought it would be. Sure, the Family Guy style of humor is absolutely present, but not as much as I thought it would be. The heart of this movie is just the pure chemistry between Walhberg’s John and Ted (voiced by MacFarlane himself). There are no gimmicks needed. Sure, one of the characters is a talking teddy bear, but that’s not why you enjoy their relationship. They are just two funny and likable people that you root for unconditionally. And I can honestly say this is Mark Wahlberg’s best performance since The Departed. He finally wasn’t just the mediocre Walhberg going through the motions. He is legitimately funny and dedicated to this character. This is someone who should really be doing more comedy. And there aren’t really any shocks jokes. The best jokes come from the day to day banter of these two guys, and that’s my favorite kind of comedy.
But it’s not just Walhberg and MacFarlane who are funny. The supporting cast is strong all around. Mila Kunis plays perfectly off of Wahlberg and MacFarlane, Joel McHale is classic Joel McHale, Patrick Warburton can make the word ‘hi’ sound hilarious, and Giovanni Ribisi is especially creepy as this guy who wants to buy Ted for his own son. There’s one scene in particular where he’s dancing to a certain 80’s music video that is just weird, but in a really funny way.
With all these funny characters permeating throughout the film, the most surprising thing about Ted is that it flirts with other genres other than comedy. At times it’s a romance, and even in the third act it shifts towards being a thriller. But MacFarlane is smart in that he has just enough jokes in some of these sequences that it doesn’t change from being the comedy that it is.
The biggest weakness though is that even though there are times where I literally lost it in the theater, it wasn’t as consistently funny as I hoped it would be. There are some real dead spots in terms of the comedy. But because I liked the camaraderie of the characters so much, I was still invested in what I was watching, even if I wasn’t laughing as much as I wanted to. And even though the third act drags, there are some things going on that got me legitimately emotional and upset, and I sort of got the same feelings I had when I watched Toy Story 3. Even in this crass comedy, I really cared deeply about these two characters.
While a lot of the jokes rely heavily on 80’s pop culture and stereotypes, I didn’t mind it because they were still really funny jokes. That’s pretty much the Family Guy mantra. They roll out the clichés, but as long as they are funny, I’m fine with it. While I think this film could have used more humor, there are certain things that made me laugh that I’m still thinking about, including the greatest Lance Armstrong joke in the history of the world. But what makes this movie work in spades is the Walhberg/Ted relationship. Yes, it’s got the humor of Family Guy, but to be honest, what made me walk out of the theater with a huge smile on my face was how much heart was in this film. And that’s what surprised me the most.
Rating: 8 out of 10 (Great)