Ted – 4/5 stars

This film gives a more literal take on the expression ‘boys and their toys.’  As a fan of Family Guy, a story about a grown-up man and his potty-mouth yet magically alive teddy bear doesn’t sound like something that FG creator Seth McFarlane took ages to think up.

Ted is the story of 35-year-old John Bennett (Mark Whalberg), who is best friends with Ted (voiced and motion captured by Seth McFarlane)…his 27-year-old teddy bear, who does nothing but drinks and smokes pot.  John is in a relationship with Lori (Mila Kunis), who feels that he is stuck in a rut because of Ted and wants the bear to leave.  John’s friendship to Ted is soon put to the test as the idea of growing up plus the appearance of Donny (Giovanni Ribisi), Ted’s ‘Number One Fan’, threaten to break them apart.

Let’s kick things off – this is the directorial debut of a man, who created an entertaining yet controversial animated show (though not as controversial as South Park).  It is his first live-action film.  Like Brad Bird with MI: GP – can Seth McFarlane successfully pull it off and make a film that is basically like Family Guy?  When The Simpsons: The Movie was released, it came across basically as an extended episode with ‘Spiderpig.’  Now, as a fan of Family Guy, the last thing that you’d want to watch is an extended episode and end up being heavily disappointed.  As fun as the concept is, the storyline of Ted is predictable for the most part; Lori’s creepy boss and Ted’s Chinese neighbour being especially cliché, and not all the jokes are as funny as they can be…or they are just wrong.

However, the friendship between John and Ted is almost cute.  Sure, they are life losers and their interactions are primarily based on immaturity and irresponsibility, but seeing them together is unexpectedly sweet and quite believable.  Even an impressively choreographed fight scene (brought on by a comment that made me go, ‘ooooh’ – therefore showing my age) overlooks the fact that this is involving a teddy bear.

What makes Ted especially great is the almost constant nods to 80’s pop culture.  From Whalberg and Kunis recreating a famous dance scene to the killer cameos, the childhood film fan squeals inside at the retro/cheesiness of it all.  Whalberg proves himself to be quite funny and impressively quick with his humour – you cannot find a guy who can cross off so many names in one breath without wanting you to applaud afterwards.   Kunis, however, is drawfed by the dynamic duo (hmmm, just like her character, Meg Griffin) and Ribisi’s makes his short appearance count, as his incredibly creepy Donny seems to stick in your head for all the wrong reasons.

McFarlane basically recreates Peter Griffin as a teddy bear – though not in a bad way.   His sweet and fluffy exterior hides a downright dirty persona (I can’t think of tags the same way now….), but unlike some toys to grace the screen, he doesn’t try to be overly sweet and predictable so you end up not minding that he’s CGI and not a hand puppet.  Plus, he has all the best jokes and lines in the film.

Ted is funny, silly and very rude…so unless you’re easily offended, watch it and revel in the laughter.

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