Guys. When your girlfriend drags you to see Magic Mike this weekend and you notice you’re the only male in the theater, make up an excuse to go to the next theater down and see Ted instead (if she really loved you, she wouldn’t make you watch a movie about male strippers in the first place). Ted is hands down the funniest movie of the year. I’m not one to usually laugh-out-loud at movies in theaters, but the film had me in stitches (no pun intended) multiple times. The brilliant mind behind television’s Family Guy, Seth MacFarlane, makes his live action directorial debut and delivers everything you could hope for. From his trademark cut-aways and flashbacks, to multiple pop culture and ’80s references, to composer Walter Murphy’s upbeat orchestral transitions, Ted is a 106 minute, live action episode of Family Guy.
As a young boy, John Bennett (Mark Wahlberg) was a lonely child who wished for his new Christmas gift, a large teddy bear named Ted (voiced by Seth MacFarlane), to come to life to be his friend. Through movie magic and a falling star, John’s wish came true. After the initial shock of a walking and talking teddy bear, word of the miracle spread and Ted was briefly a celebrity.
Twenty-seven years later, John and Ted are still best friends enjoying a life without a care in the world. As John and long time girlfriend, Lori Collins (Mila Kunis), approach their four year anniversary, Lori feels that she and John can’t move forward with Ted acting as the third wheel.
From the start, it’s hard to tell that the teddy bear you are looking at is CG (even from my neck-breaking second row seat). Everything about the way Ted looks, from the missing patches of fur, to the lighting around him, to the actor’s interaction with him, makes you believe that Ted is real. MacFarlane sells it even by giving Ted a personality and a Boston accent (“I don’t sound that much like Peter Griffin”). And it’s not just the look of Ted, but his attitude. The beer-guzzling, pot-smoking, pop culture referencing Teddy Ruxpin (just don’t call him that to his face) is a typical Seth MacFarlane brain child. Couple that with Mark Wahlberg, and you have the funniest movie of the year.
What would a Seth MacFarlane movie be like without featuring actors who have appeared on Family Guy? The first and most obvious is Mila Kunis. While her role in the film isn’t a cameo, she has been in plenty of Family Guy episodes as the Griffin’s daughter, Meg. Other Family Guy alumni showing up in the film is Alex Borstein (Lois Griffin) and Patrick Warburton (Joe Swanson). Patrick Stewart provides the Shakespearean and sometimes raunchy narration of the film. ’80s icon Sam Jones (Flash Gordon) makes an appearance as an exaggerated (or maybe not) version of himself, and Ryan Reynolds reprises his role as the gay Ryan Reynolds from the Family Guy episode, ‘Stewie Goes for a Drive‘. A famous talk show host even makes a posthumous cameo in the film. And rounding out the list of cameos is the ruggedly handsome Tom Skerritt as the ruggedly handsome Tom Skerritt.
A Plot We’ve Seen Before
SPOILERS AHEAD! Don’t get me wrong. Ted is a hilarious movie with a few plot twists you may not see coming. But the rest of the film is what we’ve seen before in countless romantic comedies (romcoms, if you will): Guy gets girl, guy loses girl, guy gets girl back. And that’s exactly what happens: John and Lori date, John and Lori break up, John and Lori get back together again; and a few twists and turns in between. Although this doesn’t take away from the film’s hilarious moments, it would’ve been better if MacFarlane had found a way to break the overused romcom mold.
Overall Rating: 4 out of 5
Don’t mistake Ted for a filthy comedy full of poop jokes. While it has its share of raunch and filth, Ted also has warm and actual heartfelt moments. A strong comedic cast holds the movie together, even if the plot is a little weak and predictable in places. So grab your thunder buddy and go see the movie you’re sure to be quoting for the rest of the summer, Ted!
You can view the Red Band trailer here.