DISCLAIMER: I know that summer ended and I know that Ted was released more than two months ago but I’ve been preoccupied with a lot of things in my life like my work, the excitement of summer sports events, and even my Olympic writing. This is the first of four long-overdue summer movie reviews. I hope you understand my delay and I hope you appreciate what I have to write.
I’m sure when many first see a movie poster of Ted, they’d think it’s a family movie. Mark Wahlberg watching television with an animate teddy bear, must be family fun, right? You couldn’t be wronger. It will surprise you.
John Bennett was the odd boy out in his Boston neighborhood. When he was eight, his parents gave him a talking teddy bear for Christmas. One night he wished over a shooting star that his bear would come to life. He did and promised John he’d be friends with him forever. He soon became a huge celebrity but still remained friends with John and would continue to do so in the years to come, though high school, college, and even in his present life. Even Lori, his girlfriend of four years, is fine with it.
Or is she? Fast-forwarding to the present, John is an adult but hasn’t grown up an awful lot. He has a job and a strong relationship but the job’s not the best and he’s afraid of thunderstorms. Ted has also changed. He still has a good friendship with John but he’s quite the partier who knows how to down a few brewskis and toke on a bong frequently. Lori is starting to feel the discomfort as her sleazy boss Rex keeps hitting on her and her friends even ask about her and John. Lately Ted has become more of an interference between the two. The problem is not just because John isn’t all that mature but because of Ted’s over-the-top partying. How over the top? Ted’s the type that can do a totally raunchy ‘Dirty Fozzie’ dance, get down with a checkout girl and even play truth-or-dare with hookers that involved dares that are way too kinky.
Lori finally declares ‘it’s Ted or me.’ John agrees to clean up his act and even gets Ted to move out into an apartment of his own. Ted is fortunate enough to get a job at a grocery store where he moves up places and even dates Tammi-Lynn the checkout girl. So problem solved for John, right? Guess again! John and Lori find Tammi-Lynn obnoxious. John still occasionally meets with Ted and talks with him. Then it happens. Ted calls John over to one of his parties which feature none other than their childhood hero: Flash Gordon star Sam Jones. Even though he’s with Lori at an occasion, he can’t miss this for the words. He attends but Lori finds out on the spot. It’s over.
John tries to get his life together. He tries to move on without Lori. He even tries to win her love back by singing to her at a Norah Jones concert while she’s on a date with Rex to no avail. He tells Ted off in what becomes a fistfight. Ted tries to patch things up between him and Lori. However the real turning point comes when a guy named Donny and his ‘son’ Robert take him as his own. Ted learns Donny has been obsessed with him since day 1 and that something’s wrong. It’s just as John’s returning to Lori as he alerts John of the trouble. It’s just as Ted is abducted by Donny and taken into his car that the problem happens and it’s up for John and Lori to save him. Ted tries to escape even as much as trying to climb to the top of Fenway Park but Donny tears him to shreds in an attempt to get him. After Donny’s arrested John and Lori now have to deal with the fact Ted might die. John even tries to stitch him all up and Lori does something of her own. The movie ends happy and predictable in some ways but unpredictable and equally as delightful in others.
The best quality of the movie is that it succeeds in entertaining with a premise and story that could have been the catharsis for something dreadfully awful but ends up being watchable, enjoyable, excellent and even make sense. That has to be the biggest triumph of Ted. I’m sure the premise of a talking teddy bear whose best friends with a 35 year-old man boy would be the setting up for a movie in danger of being incredibly cheesy or an insult to the crowds intelligence. Not Ted. It took the skilled writing of Family Guy cartoonist Seth MacFarlane to make a movie win in terms of writing and its ability to entertain. The first giveaway to those who don’t already know Seth is all behind this is Ted’s voice being exactly like Peter Griffin. Those familiar with Seth’s cartoon series shows, especially The Family Guy, knows that Seth is never one to shy away from subject matter that raises eyebrows and rattles cages. Many have compared his envelope-pushing humor to that of South Park cartoonists Trey Parker and Matt Stone. One thing Seth does in Ted that Trey and Matt don’t do in any of their works is come to an honest, smart, even heartfelt ending that’s able to work with Ted for all its over-the-topness.
It’s not just Seth’s efforts that make Ted succeed. Mark Wahlberg fit very well into his role as man-boy John Bennett. He made it look believable and entertaining. Mila Kunis also succeeded with her character and with making an otherwise ridiculous situation on screen come across smart. Giovanni Ribisi was also good and funny as the weirdly creepy villain. Norah Jones and Sam Jones (no relation of course) also fit in perfectly with their cameo appearances. Jessica Barth was good with her character acting as Tammi-Lyn. She did the cartoonishness of her role well. Joel McHale was the minor glitch of the movie as his role as the slimy Rex came across as too cartoonish or too stockish to fit in with the story. I think he overdid it in the sliminess.
One thing about Ted is that the humor is not for everyone. Fans of Seth MacFarlane’s humor would definitely go for all the jokes in Ted but those that aren’t comfortable with the likes of the Family Guy better be warned. There’s a lot of ethnic and racial humor, poking fun at religion, a lot of humor that may come across as poking fun at certain individuals, and even some sex humor that may make some people squirm in their chair. I myself found Ted mostly entertaining but even still there were some element s of humor in there that I wasn’t ready for. And to think years ago I had no problem sitting through the humor of Team America: World Police. Yeah, age can do that to you.
Ted is a comedy that will surprise you. Surprise you with the over-the-top humor, surprise you with the bizarre situation and surprise you with how well-done this movie is. It’s no wonder it’s this summer’s surprise hit.
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