Friday, July 20, 2012

TED (2012)

Written by Seth MacFarlane, Alec Sulkin & Wellesley Wild

Directed by Seth MacFarlane

Where & When: Los Feliz 3, Los Feliz, CA.  July 8, 2012  7:00PM

"Ted" is the first feature film by Seth MacFarlane, the creator of the animated comedy series, "Family Guy", "The Cleveland Show" and "American Dad'. I have to admit I wasn't expecting much as I'm not much of a fan of Mr. MacFarlane's television shows. It seemed that "Ted" would be nothing more than an extended, live-action version of an episode of "Family Guy" that is pushed forward by a series of unrelated jokes (some witty, most just offensive and gross) that are loosely tied together with a slight plot. However, this film manages to be a pleasantly amusing charmer that offers just as much heart as it does raunchy laughs.

As a little boy, John Bennett was very lonely because nobody wanted to play with him. One Christmas day, his parents gave him a large, talking teddy bear as a gift and he becomes John's best friend. John wishes that his bear would come to life and overnight, Ted magically is able to walk and talk. Ted, obviously, becomes a media sensation but after his fifteen minutes of fame are up, Ted is soon old news and forgotten which leaves him a little bitter.

Now as an adult living in Boston, John (Mark Wahlberg) works at a dead-end job but the bright side is that he has been dating for four years, the gorgeous, Lori (Mila Kunis). Everybody tells her she can do better but Lori doesn't mind that he's unmotivated and she makes more money than her man. He makes her laugh and she's ready to take the next step to marry John and start a life together. However, John is still living with Ted, (voiced by Mr. MacFarlane) who has become a  foul-mouthed, obnoxious stoner. Lori would like to see Ted move on, as she feels that he's not a great influence for John but he can't seem to let his bear go. Ted, with his crass behavior and "party 'til you drop" mentality, manages to help get John in to plenty of mischief that threatens his relationship with Lori. There is also a creepy guy (Giovanni Ribisi) who wants Ted for his equally creepy son and willing to do anything to get him.

Women, gays, most racial and ethnic groups and "Twilight's", Taylor Lautner are all fair game as nothing and no one is off-limits as the highly un-p.c. jokes fly fast and furious. Some of these are hilariously funny unless you are in one of the aforementioned groups, which then you might find them less than humorous. While the plot is certainly slight but what makes "Ted" truly work in the underlining tenderness that is snuck in throughout, most especially between John and his bear. Even after the two have a comically over-the-top but ultra-violent knock-down, drag-out brawl in a hotel room, using everything at their disposal, you can still sense the deep love they have for each other although neither would ever dare admit. There are moments that the film feels like it ventured in to Judd Apatow territory, but never quite reaching the polished wit of "Knocked-Up" or "The 40 Year Old Virgin".

Mr. Wahlberg, who began his career in music as a rapper, has progressed in to a fine actor and a great comedian. Best known for his ability to easily play a tough guy, Wahlberg is not in the least self-conscious and willing to look quite ridiculous for a laugh. Ms Kunis isn't given much to do but simply look attractive while reacting to all of the craziness around her. She doesn't even get the opportunity to tell a real joke.

"Ted" manages to juggle romance, bromance, action, suspense, a car chase, singer, Norah Jones, the 1980's film, "Flash Gordon" (Sam Jones, you rock!) and bawdy humor while surprisingly making it all work to become one of the best comedies I've seen not only this year but in a long time.