Starring: Mark Wahlberg, Mila Kunis, Seth McFarlane (voice)
Directed by: Seth McFarlane
Running Time: 106mins
Ted was one of those movies that totally took us by surprise. On the strength of a great trailer (NSFW), it appeared unannounced and made us laugh so hard that we’ve been giddy at the prospect of seeing it ever since.
The premise is simple and preposterous.
Johnny (Wahlberg) is a 35-year-old, well, loser. He has a dead-end job, gets stoned and still takes his teddy everywhere. Only in this case his teddy, Ted (McFarlane), is a crude, rude and drugged up force of nature who, thankfully is also very, very funny.
The one really good thing in his life is the beautiful Lori (Kunis) who Johnny loves very much, but sadly he must choose between Ted – his lifelong friend – and Lori, the girl he wants to marry. And, as with all these stories, this makes life difficult as no-one sees eye to eye (there are few surprises here).
So basically the movie chronicles Johnny’s difficult choices. Throw in some brilliant Flash Gordon gags, a wealthy of nerdy nods to Indiana Jones, Star Wars and Family Guy (ahem) to name but a few, and spice up with a plot involving a weird father and son who want to own Ted, and you have the bones of the story.
However the story, while it does flow fairly well and makes sense( in the confines of a movie where no-one blinks when Ted appears) is not really the focal point. The movie is reliant on Ted. That’s why people want to see this. And they won’t be let down. Ted is a great little character. Capable of being rude, offensive and tugging on the heartstrings – occasionally all in one scene.
Now, it’s not overly clever and although we were promised a very different animal from McFarlane’s Family Guy, it does in many ways feel like Family Guy, especially in the early scenes where the couple reminisce about how they met, cue the funny cut-aways. But it honestly is quite different – it has a linear story for a start. But, as with Peter and Brian Griffin, McFarlane is really the selling point. You never for a second don’t believe he IS the bear. And quite surprisingly you don’t think of Peter Griffin even though his voice is, well, virtually identical.
The chemistry between Wahlberg and Ted is great and there is a touching camaraderie between the two that is the crux of the movie and it works very, very well. The chemistry between man and bear is more believable here than the chemistry between man and woman, but that’s ok.
The sub-plot involving Giovanni Ribisi feels shoehorned in and there merely to get us to the end, but all these things are pretty forgivable. The plot is corny, hammy and predictable but it never tries to be more, in fact I think it was deliberate, homaging the romantic movies it also mocks. It tries to give you a story of friendship and the choices men have to make in their lives when it becomes time to grow up. It tries to be fun and funny and most importantly, it tries to give us a character we can really like in Ted and it accomplishes all these things with gusto. And it has one of the most epically epic fights ever filmed.
There is no danger of Oscars for the movie, but there are laughs and a few moist eyes, it is obvious and contains no real surprises, but it’s not that sort of movie, it’s a feel good movie and as a debut movie, it’s a confident kick-off by McFarlane.
Perfect? By no means, but it is funny and the premise manages to stretch over the near-two hour running time. Just. Oh and there’s a cameo involving FTN favourite Patrick Warburton that is simply inspired.
It’s a crude and funny movie about a talking Bear. Bear that in mind (see what I did there?) and you’ll not be let down.
Special thanks, as always, to Movie House Belfast.