Peter Brady look-alike Seth MacFarlane makes a fine feature directorial debut with Ted, the story of a man, his teddy bear, and that bear's propensity for smoking weed, banging hookers and uttering profanities.
MacFarlane lends his voice to Ted, a standard-looking teddy bear blessed with the ability to speak and screw after his owner, John (played as an adult by Mark Wahlberg), wishes Ted could talk and be his best friend.
Most adults tend to put their playthings in the closet or give them to Goodwill come adulthood, but John and Ted become pot buddies and lifelong slackers, much to the chagrin of John's girlfriend, Lori (Mila Kunis).
One of the great things about the film is that Ted's existence—after the initial and very funny shock expressed by John's parents—is accepted around the world as no big deal. After a brief brush with stardom, his fame fades, and he's treated like any other guy, with nobody stopping on the street and screaming, "Holy shit! A talking bear!"
Because he's a bad influence on John (John keeps skipping work to share bong hits with the bear), Ted is forced to go into the real world by himself and get an apartment and a job. MacFarlane gives this element of the movie a consistent, absurdist feel that really works.
Wahlberg plays the straight man in goofy comedies with the best of them. Anybody who saw him with Will Ferrell in The Other Guys knows that Wahlberg has masterful comic timing, and MacFarlane puts it to great use.
MacFarlane has created something memorable—and very funny—with Ted. The bear is a wondrous special effect—a fact which will probably be taken for granted. He's an example of a flawless computer-generated character that integrates seamlessly into the action. If the Oscars were held today, I would submit Ted in the special-effects competition.
I've never been a big watcher of MacFarlane's Family Guy. I don't have anything against it; I think Stewie is funny, and the Star Wars stuff is awesome. It's just one of those shows I never seem to have time to watch. Still, I've recognized MacFarlane's talents in the past, and believed going into Ted that I had a good chance of laughing.
What I didn't expect is the film's sweetness. MacFarlane takes the human elements of the story seriously, and they wind up being quite charming. It has to be recognized as a major directorial feat when a first-timer creates an animated teddy bear that is more well-rounded than most human characters in movies today.
For those of you simply looking for good, raunchy, R-rated comedy, Ted has got the goods. There's a scene with a roomful of hookers that will certainly go down as one of the year's most memorable (and most joyously disgusting), and the things Ted says during a job interview would curl a clergyman's toes.
A subplot involving a deranged Giovanni Ribisi (Is there any other kind?) and his sicko kid stalking Ted gets some great laughs, especially when Ribisi busts out some dance moves while watching TV.
Given its huge box-office success, I suspect this isn't the last we'll hear of Ted. The little bastard has "franchise" written all over him.
I just did a search to see if there are any Ted teddy bears ready to purchase. Nope ... somebody has dropped the ball on that one. There should be a talking Ted bear ready for me to buy at Spencer's this instant!