Move over dog, man just got a new best friend.
Basically, Ted is the manifestation of a lonely little boy who wished that one day he could have a real friend to play games and share jokes with in a magical, Disney-esque way. “Nothing is more powerful than a young boy’s wish,” our narrator, Sir Patrick Stewart, observes in the dry manner of Tom Baker in Little Britain, “except an Apache helicopter — an Apache helicopter has machine guns and missiles, it’s an unbelievably impressive complement of weaponry, an absolute death machine.” The tone has been firmly set, there’s no going back from here.
Mark Wahlberg stars as John Bennett who, as a boy growing up in 1980s Massachusetts, made a heartfelt Christmas wish for his teddy bear, ‘Teddy’, to come to life… and so it did. When his parents discover the good news his father yells: “get my shotgun” as the loveable bear springs into the kitchen. We see the process of Teddy becoming a national sensation with TV appearances, thanks to the fanfare that comes from being a talking bear and before you know it they are both grown up and Teddy has become shrewdly abbreviated to Ted (Seth MacFarlane).
As the years go on John and Ted stay roommates, while the novelty of being a talking teddy is eventually forgotten. However, complications arise when, after four years of being in a relationship with girlfriend Lori (Mila Kunis), Ted’s very presence proves to be too much of a strain. It’s no longer the childhood fantasy that it was. John’s adulthood has been catastrophically impaired by loyalty to his friend, but to the outside world, John and Lori seem happy enough; she’s a corporate go-getter and he works for a rental car firm. He makes her laugh, she’s supportive and fun. There’s just one small problem: John’s button-eyed BFF (make that TBFL – ‘Thunder Buddy For Life’) is the tip of an unexpected love-triangle. Ted is a has-been, ex-celebrity, who is a belching, pot-smoking teddy-bear with a vocabulary that would make Peter Griffin blush. Lori is sick of sharing her man with a talking toy bear and soon it will be time for John to make a big life choice. Either Ted goes – or she does.
Although the scenes where Ted is absent are a little lacking, Mark Wahlberg’s performance more than makes up for it, as he was excellent throughout the film, just as he was in “The Fighter” and “The Other Guys”. He proves again that he has great comedic value too; producing several of the big laughs from the audience. It’s easy to forget that he is talking to a computer-generated bear. The effects used for Ted are from the same programme used in James Cameron’s visual masterpiece “Avatar”, as his interactions are actually very good considering he’s talking to himself for the majority of the film.
The job interview scene had me in stitches (mind the pun) and MacFarlane has a knack of making an excellent talking animal; having done so on TV with Brian the dog (Family Guy) and Rodger the alien (American Dad!); two of his most successful projects. Kunis is perfectly cast in the frustrated girlfriend role, providing the same wit from her character Meg in Family Guy. Plus there’s an excellent long-lasting cameo by forgotten 80s TV star Sam Jones, who’s role as Flash Gordon is part of the fabric that holds John and Ted together. Despite the film tailing off toward the end with a lacklustre kidnapping scene involving crazed fan Donny (Giovanni Ribisi) and his chubby son, it still manages to keep up the laughs. Although, I believe that Ribisi’s performance deserved a more prominent character, rather than being just a small role in the whole scheme of the movie. For instance, the dance scene where he gyrates to Tiffany’s I Think We’re Alone Now is eerily hilarious, even though it has no real prevalence in the plot of the film.
With several crew members from MacFarlane’s TV outings (Mila Kunis, Sir Patrick Stewart and music from Walter Murphy), I feared Ted was going to end up being an overly-long episode of Family Guy, where the same one-liners and prolonged jokes that are funny to start with, but end up becoming wearisome; like the three-minute salvo of Conway Twitty’s back catalogue of country music. I was dreading that it would go the way of The Simpsons Movie (and for the record, the latter series of programme) but to my relief, it didn’t.