REVIEW: Seth McFarlane's 'Ted' Is 'Bad Santa' For Bear Crowd
'Ted' is going to be that love it or hate it film for many as 'Bad Santa' was, but it has a similar heart and surprising tenderness along with funny as hell dark comedy moments. Seth McFarlane makes a great transition from the small screen to the big one with a bear who you love as much as you want to throttle.
As with Seth McFarlane's 'Family Guy', 'Ted' will surely offend as many people as possible while McFarlane fans will eat this up readily, but don't be surprised if it makes a nice little splash at the superhero heavy box office. The summer has been a little light on guy comedies (and I won't count Adam Sandler's mess 'That's My Boy'), so Mark Wahlberg fills the spot much like Channing Tatum did in '21 Jump Street'. Ironically enough, Wahlberg is literally filling the spot left vacant from Tatum's 'G.I. Retaliaion' film that was pushed up to next year. This film has a chance to get some box office rewards before July comes tromping in with that behomoth 'The Dark Knight Rises' and swallows everything like 'The Avengers' did. Also there's a cool new app that Seth MacFarlane's gang put together and you can check it out here.
When you've got summer full of action adventure, it's nice to have some twisted comedy fun to throw into the mix, and 'Ted' delivers all that. It also makes you wonder why McFarlane took so long to get to the big screen. 'Ted' was originally thought up as an animated series, but Wahlberg and a CG bear bring this film to life. It reminded me much of Billy Bob Thornton in 'Bad Santa' where the bear is Thornton and Wahlberg is the sweet kid who gives Santa a blood stained pickle he made himself (and cut while making). There's a sweetness to the film that hits just when Ted is starting to irritate you. McFarlane knows how to balance this wonderfully, and many people thinking the trailers look one note, there's more layers to this film than meets the eye.
The set-up for the film is perfect Christmas sweetness as a friendless young John (Bretton Manley) makes a wish that his bear will come to life. The miracle of the holiday hits (narrated perfectly by Patrick Stewart) and a lifelong friendship is born. Ted becomes a curiosity in the national spotlight, but as with many child stars, that becomes his own cross to bear. For some reason, 'The Two Corey's' reality show kept popping into my head as older John becomes the biggest enabler in Ted's booze and womanizing filled life. If you saw that disturbingly real show with Corey Haim and Corey Feldman, you might remember that when anyone a mile away could see that Haim (RIP) was going off the rails, Feldman stuck around even at the risk of going down in flames for the troubled actor. Thankfully, there's a happy ending to Ted unlike 'The Two Corey's'.
John is dating Lori (Mila Kunis) who's been tolerant of Ted, but after four years she lays down the gauntlet for her boyfriend to grow up. Naturally, things begin to get difficult, and the film has the underlying theme of time to put away the toys and moving on with your life.
The part of the film that's so great is that, unlike Mel Gibson's 'The Beaver', Ted feels real in the film and you react to him the same as you do with Wahlberg's John. He looks read and he acts like that friend we've all had from high school or college who's still acting like it's Greek Week everyday. That's where the film hits home for most of us as we've all had that friend so don't be surprised if women wind up liking this one as much as the guys do.
Ted's not a perfect film and sometimes the jokes don't always land, but McFarlane's genius is when he digresses into unexpected territory and lets his actors be self deprecating as is the case with Norah Jones and a surprising cameo from Ryan Reynolds. I won't say what he does, but in Ted, you know it's going to be nasty! Even Giovanni Ribisi reminded me of why I used to like him playing an overly obsessed dad trying to kidnap the bear for his son. This is one comedy that even the easily offended can find some touching humor in believe it or not.
Best Movies Ever Rating: B+
Seth McFarlane's big screen directorial debut with 'Ted' should easily make 'Family Guy' fans happy while also bringing in new fans who don't watch cartoons. Mark Wahlberg shows off his comedic side again as he did in 'The Other Guys' and proves he can be funny even with a CG bear.