It doesn’t take much for Seth MacFarlane to steal our attention. He has proven that with over 10 years worth of animated situational comedy. We have watched three different families deal with every single awkward, violent, and overly-sexual issue you can think of. That’s not all, though. The man has had his hands in animated productions for over 15 years. He wrote on cartoons even I watched as a kid. Like Cow & Chicken, Dexter’s Laboratory and even the man’s man himself, Johnny Bravo. This man has ushered in a completely new form of comedy by parodying every different kind of family there is. But after all that, what is his next step? To direct and star in a movie about a grown man in Boston who has a talking teddy bear.
The premise is a simple one. A lonely kid with no friends wishes upon a star that his teddy bear would be his best friend forever. Through the power of magic, the bear comes to life and they live happily ever after. Ever after only seems to last ’til your mid ’30s though. John Bennett (Mark Wahlberg) is now an adult with a hot girlfriend (Mila Kunis) and as real a job as anyone, a rental car agent. His best friend, Teddy (Seth MacFarlane), has grown up a little himself – going through a slight stint of fame when the world learns of his existence only to be quickly forgotten. They now spend most of their time getting stoned as hell in front of the television while John’s seemingly cool girlfriend, Lori, works hard as a PR rep. All is not well in paradise though. Lori does what every girl seems to do nowadays, and that’s listen to her stupid-ass friends complain about how she needs “a real man,” which causes friction at home. Then you have douchey co-worker Rex (Joel McHale) who wants a piece of that so he’s there to tell her she can do better.
This movie is hand-crafted for fans of MacFarlane’s work and adds a dash of nostalgia and a kick of crude humor. The non-stop unadulterated banter and tomfoolery keep you laughing uncontrollably with the occasional pause for style and grace. Its levity can seem a little absurd at certain moments but the practical jokes quickly distract you from the facts. I found myself getting stuck at one point on the idea of how Ted is able to consume food or how he is able to hold relationships with women but no more than when I wonder how Brian, Peter Griffin’s dog, can do the same in Family Guy. It was hard to keep myself from making those sort of comparisons throughout the movie, though. A good majority of the cast come from all of MacFarlane’s television series, including Mila Kunis, Ralph Garman, Alex Borstein and of course, Patrick Warburton. The original music for the film was even done by Walter Murphy who does all the music for Family Guy, The Cleveland Show, and American Dad.
The pop culture references were indicative of a Fuzzy Door Production as well. I am a child of the ’80s so this movie was tailored for my age group. References to Teddy Ruxpin, Tom Skerritt, and even Flash Gordon keep your ears open and listening for all the things you grew up with. But what really surprised me were all the actual appearances from such icons. It made for a really fun reunion made more interesting with lots of drugs and hookers. It really makes you wonder how you could ever outgrow that friend from high school who still lives with his mom and works part-time at Sports Chalet because they don’t drug test. The point is, with references to James Bond’s Octopussy, The Outsiders, and even E.T., you will not be pining for more opportunities to reminisce about your life in the ’80s.
Mark Wahlberg is a kid in a man’s body and he plays it pretty well. A role made more believable by making himself as immature and unfocused as possible. Could you control your attention during cocaine-infused party nights with Flash Gordon himself? I think not. Ultimately, I found some of the jokes to be almost too evocative to Macfarlane’s claim to fame, Family Guy, but there were enough odd and surprising celebrity appearances to balance the scale. Some moments it will feel like a really long episode of something between Small Wonder and Married With Children but if you stick through it, you end up getting quite a touching and intentionally risible ending. Go see Ted for the talking stuffed animal and foul-mouthed buffoonery, but don’t expect lasting effects with major quotability. I believe this movie will be forgotten fairly easily. That is, until Seth MacFarlane directs his second film. I’ll give Ted 3.5 out of 5 Nerdskulls but see it for yourself to determine your own opinion. If nothing else, it will fuel the next project from Fuzzy Door Productions.