Wednesday, 12 December 2012
Seth MacFarlane has long established a reputation for crazy and original comedy through his TV animation series like American Dad and Family Guy. In case you were wondering how the MacFarlane thing works with live action on the big screen, look no further than Ted. It’s a direct answer written and directed by the man himself.
Mark Wahlberg and Mila Kunis reunite after their “legendary” Max Payne adventure. John (Wahlberg) is a kid so unpopular his only refuge is the teddy bear his parents got him for Christmas, Ted. He loves Ted so much he wishes for Ted to become alive, and as all Christmas wishes go this wish comes true – Ted the teddy bear is still a plush toy, but a conscious one at that. One that speaks with the voice of MacFarlane himself.
Roll the tape from 1985 to 2012, and John is still best friends with Ted. So much so that Lori (Kunis), the girlfriend that is way too overqualified for a guy with a dead end job who smokes pot all day with his teddy bear, feels marginalized. Something’s got to give: either John stops being a child and lets go of Ted, or Lori goes. Which way would it be? Perhaps, in the face of subplot driven adversity, one can have the cake and eat it to?
Ted embodies everything we grew to expect from Family Guy. It starts with that all too familiar voice (a voice that by now cannot be used on any non Family Guy like character), moves on to the use of actors from the Family Guy enterprise (like Patrick Stewart doing the narration), but mostly focuses around that good old crazy feeling of the cartoons. The basic concept, the one of the teddy bear coming to life, already puts us on a good starting point there; the crazy and often chaotic and perhaps sloppy direction and editing style takes things further. The politically incorrect jokes seal the deal, though.
Those jokes stretch along a lengthy continuum of wanking and deliberating on things that have no direct implications on the plot. Most obvious is the fixation on the cultural icons MacFarlane grew up on, particularly that bad old Flash Gordon movie. Perhaps because Star Wars was the subject of many a MacFarlane piece of work already, Ted puts a lot of focus on Flash Gordon and its hero character instead. If that film meant anything to you then you will like Ted regardless of anything else it does or doesn’t (it sure did matter to me; I recall watching it nine times in one weekend when my uncle rented the VHS, an experience that left my aunt in total despair). If, however, you find all this messing about nothing more than much ado about nothing then you will probably be too disturbed by Ted’s focus on the nonsense rather than being the good old plot driven film that every good [conforming] movie should be like.
Best scene #1: John flashbacks into his first meeting with Lori. In his mind, that was something like Officer and Gentleman meets Saturday Night Fever to become Airplane.
Best scene #2: John tries to guess the name of Ted’s new girlfriend. His only clue: it’s a bogan name. John starts spitting out candidate names machine gun style, leaving me to wonder how many takes the scene required before Wahlberg managed it (regardless, I bow my head with appreciation).
Worst scene: Ted and John fight in a scene that is perhaps the most Family Guy crazy in the movie. It’s not bad, but it’s just too crazy; in my opinion, it does not enhance the film but rather detracts. Unless, of course, crazy is what you seek.
Overall: I’ve enjoyed watching Ted, yet I cannot honestly say it’s a good movie. 3 out of 5 stars.