Ted movie

‘Ted’ review

Posted Filed under

Much like a two-hour long episode of Family Guy, Seth MacFarlane’s new offering Ted is a blend of the hilarious, the offensive and the downright lazy.

Will it make you laugh? Yes. But it’s all just a bit soulless.

Ted tells the story of lonely little Johnny Bennett, who receives a giant teddy bear for Christmas one year and makes a wish that they’ll be friends forever. Cue Johnny waking up next morning to discover that Ted has magically come to life.

Twenty or so years on, best buds Johnny (Mark Wahlberg) and Ted (Seth MacFarlane) are living together with Johnny’s longterm girlfriend Lori (Mila Kunis). Johnny works for a rental car company and spends his days getting high with the foul-mouthed Ted, whose brief taste of fame as a talking toy faded years ago. Problems arise when Lori expresses her doubts over getting married, leading Johnny to question his co-dependent relationship with his furry pal.

This is a film, then, that works loosely as an analogy for growing up, that taps into our modern cultural obsession with infantilized adults. But essentially, MacFarlane isn’t interested in that. Nor does he seem actually interested in the story at all.

Ted is – unsurprisingly – largely just a vehicle for jokes. And while a substantial percentage of those jokes are funny, they could so easily be plucked from this film and transplanted into one of MacFarlane’s cartoons that the whole affair smacks of self-indulgent laziness (a prime example of this being Ted pointing out the similarity between his voice and that of Family Guy‘s Peter Griffin).

After sixty minutes of these gags being fired at you, the laughter starts to taste bad in your mouth; you begin to realize that beneath the veneer of good humour and charming performances (Mark Wahlberg and an amazing cameo from Ryan Reynolds are the bright spots here), this is a film built on easy gags and cheap shots. The biggest laugh, in fact, resulted from a fat child being called “Susan Boyle”.

The real problem with Ted stems from what made MacFarlane famous – the edginess of his cartoons Family Guy and American Dad. Where Matt Groening’s seminal shows The Simpsons and Futurama are famous for centering on a heartfelt family dynamic, Macfarlane’s work has always traded the sweet and genuine in favour of slick, quick, offensive jokes. But while Macfarlane’s boundary-pushing, but essentially shallow, comedy works within the confines of a twenty-minute cartoon, it feels labored, overdone and overstretched in Ted. Thus does it become painfully noticeable when Ted attempts to eke out some sense of genuine depth or emotion. Despite MacFarlane’s best efforts, though, these moments smack of heartlessness varnished over with a sugary layer of the cheapest sort of Hollywood sentimentality.

At the end of the day, Ted is – as I said – much like an episode of Family Guy: very funny but in a way that is often cruel, cold and occasionally genuinely offensive. The only real difference between Ted and one of MacFarlane’s cartoons is the severely misjudged attempt to tack on some warmth and heart. Because much like Ted himself, Macfarlane’s film is – despite all the fluff – a bit dead behind the eyes.

Released in UK cinemas on Wednesday 1st August 2012 by Universal Pictures.

> Buy the Family Guy: Season 1-9 boxset on Amazon.

What did you think of Ted? Let us know below…