Culture, Film

Review: Ted (2012)

Ted movie postersSeth MacFarlane’s crude, rude and funny slice of live-action Family Guy stays subversive until the last act.

An introverted Johnny Bennett (Mark Wahlberg) makes a Christmas wish for his teddy bear to come to life. And it does.

Twenty-five years later, after the media furore dies down and a talking teddy is yesterdays’s news, Ted has grown up to be a drug-taking, hard-drinking foul-mouthed bear, coming between slacker Johnny and his career-minded girlfriend (Mila Kunis).

Overflowing with MacFarlane’s trademark 80’s nostalgia references, a glorious pastiche orchestral soundtrack and some dubious cameo appearances, Ted sells out to a straight Disney-esque ending.

Because it’s a MacFarlane scripted and directed vehicle, all of Ted‘s strengths are its weaknesses. Ted (voiced by MacFarlane himself) is the best and worst of Peter Griffin, Brian the Dog and assorted Family Guy characters. The movie isn’t afraid to do grown-up comedy about a perpetual adolescent, but between the swearing, the drugs, the sex-talk and the bodily functions (hello Adam Sandler’s entire back catalogue and no, that doesn’t entitle you to take a shot at Jack and Jill), and the endless, I mean endless 80’s references, winds up looking like a perpetual adolescent got hold of a big CGI movie budget.

There are some funny set-pieces – Wahlberg and Ted’s comedy punch-up is one – and familiar faces from TV sit-coms feature in a parade of disturbing and disturbed supporting characters. Sir Patrick Stewart’s narration is an unexpected joy.

The cast do well acting to the CGI bear that isn’t there; Wahlberg, Kunis and the supporting cast doing excellent light comedy-drama (material allowing). What isn’t so good are the cameo’s from non-actors Sam Jones (Flash Gordon) and Nora Jones (musician) as themselves. The cameos’ break the fourth wall in the worst possible way, like Ocean’s Thirteen having Julia Roberts play a Julia Roberts lookalike (why yes, Sam Jones is a terrible actor, oh look isn’t that Mark Wahlberg and Mila Kunis?). While Ted’s Korean neighbour pushes close to a racist incident.

But Ted rattles along well enough as a series of interlinked sketches, with frequent asides just for Airplane-type gags. But it’s central plot, Johnny growing into responsible adulthood with Lori versus the loyalty to his friend does drag like an anchor. Choice: foul-mouthed slacker teddy-bear or Mila Kunis? No contest.

The biggest problem is the last act, where Giovanni Ribisi’s creepy and hilarious toy-stalker triggers a kidnap-and-chase climax. Executed with Family Guy verve and gusto almost to the end, MacFarlane can’t get past a stubborn romantic streak. The movie wants to be abrasive, offensive and occasionally nasty, break taboos and earn it’s R-rating. Then the last act reverts to Hollywood rom-com resolution, the gags thin out and rather than go for the grown up option and undercut the clichés, dumps us right in one for the end-credits. He would never end an episode of Family Guy this way.

MacFarlane’s first movie is okay if lacking the will to be really subversive the way we’d hoped. RC

Ted (2012)
Director: Seth MacFarlane
Writer: Seth MacFarlane
Running time: 1 hr. 55 min.
Genre: Comedy
Certification: R (US), 15 (UK)
Cast: Mark Wahlberg, Mila Kunis, Seth MacFarlane, Patrick Warburton, Seth Rogen, Sir Patrick Stewart, Giovanni Ribisi, Joel McHale

Related: The Watch

About Robin Catling

Robin Catling gained degrees in both arts and technology which led to a diverse portfolio of employment. A freelance systems analyst, project manager and business change manager for the likes of American Express, British Airways and IBM, he moved on to web design, journalism and technical authoring. He has also worked in film and television, both behind and in front of the camera, including productions by Steven Spielberg, Martin Scorcese, Ron Howard and Ridley Scott. A qualified three-weapon coach, he runs West Devon Swords teaching sports fencing to all age groups, and in recent years qualified with the British Federation of Historical Swordplay to teach medieval and renaissance combat in the Historical Western Martial Arts.


4 thoughts on “Review: Ted (2012)

  1. Surprised by how much I laughed my pants off during this because I’m not a huge fan of Family Guy, but somehow, a lot of the humor just clicked for me. MacFarlane is definitely a director to watch when it comes to making R-rated comedies. Nice review Robin.

    Posted by CMrok93 | Feb 15, 2013, 5:58 am
  2. Hi there, it appears good.

    Posted by Anzualda Mieles | Feb 25, 2013, 2:44 am


  1. Pingback: Movie Catch-up: The Book of Eli (2010) | Everything Express - Feb 26, 2013

  2. Pingback: Review: Jupiter Ascending (2015) | Everything Express - Feb 19, 2015

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

Twitter Updates

Follow us on Twitter @EverythingExpre

Find Us on Facebook

Enter your email address to follow this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.



BBC World News

BBC World News
Opens the BBC World News page.
%d bloggers like this: