So 90% of the reviews out there right now for Ted open with either the reviewer saying they don’t watch Family Guy, or used to but since it was brought back from cancellation have gotten away from it, or just flat-out don’t find it funny anymore. I....I have to start my review the exact same way. I fall into the latter camp. I loved it pre-cancellation and was ridiculously happy when they brought it back. Now I only catch it maybe every few months and while it still can make me laugh, I feel it did fall too far into its own trappings of making references with no purpose and jokes that drag on for minutes at a time, a formula I feel they had once perfected.
I can say with confidence that you can have either positive or hateful feelings towards Family Guy, it will have little bearing on your enjoyment of Ted. Yes it still carries the familiar Seth McFarlane tone, but it’s enough of its own beast that there is really no reason fans and fans alike can’t enjoy it.
That really sounded like it should been the concluding paragraph doesn’t it? Ah well, moving on.
I take back my comment actually, there is one reason you may not enjoy this movie - if you are the type to get easily offended by just about anything. Ted is an equal opportunity offender, taking shots at just about anyone and everyone. I actually heard a woman gasp at one joke, so that should tell you everything you need to know right there. Seth McFarlane fans obviously won’t be too surprised by this as it is essentially what his shows would be if he were given a blank slate to say and do whatever he wanted. Those not familiar with his brand of humour may want to be wary.
One thing I have to commend Ted for is that it actually tells a story, unlike the majority of the recent FG episodes I have seen. It’s not just a series of jokes and sketches sewn together, there is an actual narrative that at times takes itself pretty seriously. It’s not a crazy original story by any means, but there is way more going on here than you might expect from a movie where Marky Mark smokes pot with a teddy bear.
The story in a nutshell is that Marky Mark (and yes I will continue to refer to him by that name) is an unpopular child who makes a Christmas wish that his teddy bear could be alive so they can be best friends forever. The wish is granted and the two grow up together, where adult Marky Mark spends his time either working a low level job at a car rental company, or smoking pot and watching Flash Gordan. He’s dating Mila Kunis, who wants him to ask Ted to move out so they can properly move forward with their relationship. Some more happens along the way, but that’s the nutshell version.
To the movie’s credit, Mila Kunis’ character Lori is wisely never depicted as the villain here. She has a fondness for Ted but also sees how his presence is holding Marky Mark back. She doesn’t want him to ditch Ted entirely, just not spend every waking second with him. She is reasonable and an actual character, so well done movie. Also I kept expecting the clichéd screw-ups from Marky Mark such as forgetting an anniversary or being oblivious to Lori’s desire to get engaged. They don’t go that route as he is completely on top of that stuff; his fuck-ups are a lot more creative. So again, kudos to Ted on that one.
The cast here is top notch, with Marky once again proving that he can be really fucking funny when given the chance. The dude goes all out for this movie and hopefully continues to do more comedies going forward. Mila Kunis I’ve already sort of covered but she of course does well. Seth McFarlane is the voice of Ted and yes, the comparisons to Peter Griffin are unavoidable but the character of Ted is different enough that you should stop noticing the similarities very quickly.
On a similar note, I haven’t seen a lot of credit given for the effects in this movie but they really do deserve a special mention. For a movie that features a talking teddy bear in just about every scene, it is completely seamless. At no point does Ted stand out as a blatant special effect. You will buy into the idea that everyone is interacting with an actual talking teddy bear almost immediately.
Most importantly though, the movie is just really, really funny. Some jokes don’t hit but the ratio is about 80/20 I would say, pretty damn solid. There are plenty of pop culture references but they never feel intrusive, the only joke that is stretched out is actually very funny, and there’s only Family Guy style cutaway here, and it definitely stands out as being one of the most forced scenes.
If you’re a fan of any of Seth’s shows (though even his fans seem to agree The Cleveland Show is pretty terrible) then Ted is an easy recommendation. If you’re not, I can still safely recommend it as it works as its own comedic entity. Also maybe check out 1980’s Flash Gordan before you go see this one. You’ll thank me later.