Review of Ted

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Seth MacFarlane directs this film about a man whose teddy bear comes to life when a childhood wish comes true. McFarlane voices the bear (Ted), while Mark Wahlberg and Mila Kunis also star.

4

You’ll never look at your child’s teddy bear the same way again after this one. From the mind of “Family Guy” creator Seth MaFarlane, comes his debut film about a stuffed teddy come-to-life who enjoys the finer things like strippers, smoking weed, cursing, and dirty sexual innuendo.

This miraculous thing happens many years ago when a young boy named John makes a wish, making Ted a flash-in-the-pan celebrity and turning them into inseparable buddies. As adults, the fame has dried up, but both are still together, spending their time getting high and watching Flash Gordon. John (Mark Wahlberg) works a dead end job at a car rental company and has a beautiful girlfriend named Lori (Mila Kunis, providing sappy romance) that he would do anything for. She loves him back but needs to see him mature, and so John decides that Ted must move out, but try as they might, staying away becomes harder than both might think.

MacFarlane, he of the cut-away gag and audaciously funny laugh, is nothing if not a keen observer. He’ll go crude, offensive (there isn’t a race, religion, traumatic event or sexual orientation he hasn’t hit), and isn’t afraid to go darker either but what I like most about him is, like the best comedians, he can create a shocking belly-laugh from a witty place of social and pop cultural commentary. So I guess the surprise would be that the bro-mance, man-stuffed animance, whatever you want to call it, is not only funny but sweet. Whether they’re riffing on Boston girls, hanging with the real Flash Gordon, going mano-e-mano in a great man vs. teddy bear fist fight or singing the thunder song to ward away their fear of the boom, it’s effective and even kinda adorable.

Wahlberg is great for this, he has a boyish-innocence that contrasts well with his bulky physique and he never lets himself slip into cartoonishness, and MacFarlane (doing the Peter Griffin voice, but still) giving voice to this seamless, excellent motion-capture special effect, gives Ted both his comic timing and affability. Another nice surprise is Giovanni Ribisi, notable for his flamboyantly creepy turn as a Ted-stalker. But it’s MacFarlane, taking his shtick outside the realm of cartoons (well, partially), who may well prove to be one of the most exciting comedy filmmakers around. With this consistently, outrageously funny movie, he’s off to a good start.