First let anyone who is offended by sexism, racism, profanity (a lot of profanity), non-pc’ness, homophobia, cruelty to children …… In fact if you’re offended in the slightest by anything at all you’re probably best giving Ted (2012), the risqué new film from Family Guy creator Seth MacFarlane, a wide birth. If on the other hand you can take the whole thing with a very large bag of salt, you’ll have a whale of a time. This fun comedy – starring Mark Walhberg, Mila Kunis and the voice of Seth, and featuring a host of cameos from Norah Jones, Sam J Jones and Tom Skerritt as themselves, as well as Patrick Stewart giving voice to the mellifluously toned narrator – is sharp, clever and yes, extremely rude.
John Bennet (Wahlberg) is a guy with a big problem. As a child he was lonely and had no friends. So, after his parents gave him a teddybear for Christmas one year, he wished that it was alive and would be his friend for life. Big mistake. As everyone knows you should be careful what you wish for, as often all you get is a whole lot of trouble especially if like John you make that wish on Christmas night. When he woke the next morning he found to his surprise, and his parent’s horror, that the teddybear had miraculously come alive.
Now your best friend being a teddybear called Ted (MacFarlane) is fine when you’re a child. Not however when you’re 35 as John now is, even if the said bear is a bone-fide, living miracle. At least that’s what John’s girlfriend Lori (Kunis) thinks until, having given John an ultimatum – Ted or her – she realises the troubles only starting.
If you find this film offensive, let’s be honest you’ve only yourself to blame. MacFarlane has built a successful career (very successful if the $218,628,680 + this film has made in America is anything to go by) on offending people, so he’s unlikely to change now. However that’s part of the fun of the movie. To see a breathing, walking, talking, lovable, cute and cuddly teddybear swearing like a trooper, smoking pot, snorting cocaine and having sex is genuinely funny once you’ve managed to recover from the initial shock. You forget the fact that this is the kind of person you’d probably avoid like the plague if they were real because, being pure fantasy, you’ll find yourself (much like the characters of John and Lori) forgiving Ted for just about anything.
Ted works however because it is much more than simply an outrageous comedy. It is also, if you look closer, very well made. The storyline, though a little predictable, is good enough to hold your attention for the film’s duration, which at well under two hours doesn’t outstay its welcome. It is also beautiful to look at with John and Lori living in to-die-for bohemianism (though how they can afford this being both in dead-end jobs, does somewhat stretch credulity), whilst Ted’s apartment, when he eventually moves out of John and Lori’s home to go it alone, gives IKEA (who he claims to have kitted it out) a whole new respectability.
The thing about this film though is that it is genuinely funny without the need to turn to profanity. Take for instance the scene where Ted shouts at a rotund kid – who along with his father provides one of the film’s best sub-plots – to “back off Susan Boyle” (Boyle must be cock-a-hoop as to be parodied in a top Hollywood film – even if it is insultingly – is the sincerest form of flattery and a sign that you have really made it). Which is a bit of a shame really. Many modern comedians who think they’re amusing need swearing and innuendo to get laughs, because in reality they’re not actually that funny. On the other hand when someone has a real talent for comedy like MacFarlane clearly does, it seems a pity that he sees fit to hide it beneath so much coarseness.
This aside, if you treat Ted as a bit of fun and don’t take it seriously, you’ll have a great time. Just make sure this is one teddybear you don’t give the kids this Christmas.
DVD/BD Release Date: 26th November 2012 (UK)
Directed By: Seth MacFarlane
Cast: Mark Wahlberg, Mila Kunis , Seth MacFarlane
Buy Ted: Extended Edition (DVD + Digital Copy + UV Copy) / Blu-ray (+ Digital Copy + UV Copy) / Limited Edition Steelbook (Blu-ray + Digital Copy + UV Copy)