Thursday 30 August 2012
(Seth MacFarlane, 2012) A lonely young boy wishes that his Teddy Bear could speak so that they could be best friends forever, and overnight, his wish is made real. Twenty years later, after a flush of 1980s celebrity has faded, boy has become thirtysomething slacker John Bennett (Mark Wahlberg) while bear has matured into foul-mouthed pothead Ted (a seamless piece of cgi animation, nicely voiced by director MacFarlane), sharing an apartment with John's beautiful, successful girlfriend Lori (Mila Kunis). Lori wants John to grow up and get serious about his life and their relationship, but Ted makes that more or less impossible. Then there is the disturbed fan (Giovanni Ribisi) seemingly determined to make Ted his own... MacFarlane can tell a joke, and perhaps the best thing about Ted is its relentless stream of gags he maintains unflaggingly. There are all sorts of gags, too; verbal riffs on pop culture and human behaviour, slapstick, visual jokes, homages to various movies (most obviously Mike Hodges' Flash Gordon), an amusing VoiceOver... In sharp contrast, the narrative here is utterly predictable, following the template of a thousand rom-coms in its treatment of the story of the man child driven to maturity (eventually) by almost losing the woman he loves. Kunis is beautiful and charming in that role, but the part is an embarrassing, misogynist cliche; all Lori does for the majority of the film is nag and make demands of John before her climactic realisation of what is really important. Ted is cheerfully un-PC in it's humour, and the range of targets is wide. These gags are racist, sexist, xenophobic, and often downright hateful in their nastiness. But it's just that quality that gives the movie an edge that works against the fuzzy softness of the narrative. Wahlberg works too, his essentially game likeableness put to good use here. MacFarlane's direction - a couple of inspired pastiches of 80s cliches aside - is efficient, and no more. Problematic and disposable, then, but it is also, on occasion, extremely funny.