John Bennett was at first a lonely boy in a small town outside Boston, but everything in his life changed for him when he receives a stuffed teddy bear for Christmas from his parents. He ends up wishing the bear could come to life, and his dream becomes a reality the very next day. Fast forward to 27 years later where the now-adult slacker John (Mark Wahlberg) is still best friends with Ted (voiced by Seth MacFarlane) who has now evolved into a walking, talking, crude, foul-mouthed, drug-addicted bear who got consumed by the fame when his anthropomorphic qualities were widely introduced to the public years ago. However, Ted is managing to be a near constant interference between John and his girlfriend of four years Lori (Mila Kunis). Lori has had enough of Ted's presence in both of their lives, and wants Ted to move on with his own life so John can finally mature into adulthood.
I've always been a fan of Mark Wahlberg as an actor, and here he gets to show his talent in a new way that we've never seen him conduct before. He has a solid line delivery that is reminiscent of his performance in "The Other Guys," and his banter with Kunis and MacFarlane is consistently entertaining. However, Wahlberg gets further props for his performance, because he has to act out numerous scenes where the character Ted would later be animated into the scene during post-production. Conducting that kind of acting isn't as easy as it may look, and Wahlberg manages to make it quite believable.
Mila Kunis on the other hand is serviceable as John's longtime girlfriend Lori, because she's essentially there to do reaction shots to just about everything her character encounters. Despite being stuck with that minimal amount of work, Kunis' background in comedy more than makes up for the severely underwritten character she's stuck with playing.
Seth MacFarlane though, predictably steals the entire movie voicing Ted. Through the process of watching several featurettes for the film, I quickly realized how complex and unique MacFarlane's performance was, as it dealt with the combination of both the motion capture of Ted's body movements, in addition to the voicing of a character that comes off as Peter Griffin if he were a Bostonian. "Family Guy" fans will easily get a kick out of the character Ted, but the naysayers of MacFarlane's voice acting style certainly won't have their opinions change in a drastic manner.
As director and co-writer, MacFarlane nets down a solid debut within the core aspect that this film has going for it, which is of course the fast-paced comedy. In terms of writing, the humor is very familiar to the brand of "Family Guy," which is comprised of countless pop culture references, crude dialogue, moments of raunch, and racial stereotypes. As a person who is much more fonder of the humor in the earlier seasons of "Family Guy," MacFarlane and his co-writers manage to form a surprisingly stellar combination of those numerous humor aspects. I found myself laughing consistently throughout the film's 106-minute running time, and even laughing out loud at two separate sequences that take place at a house party and hotel room.
Furthermore, the score by Walter Murphy is bound to please the fans of both "Family Guy" and classic Steven Spielberg films of the late 70s to early 80s. Most of the scene transitions are usually intercut with a steady jazz flow that is heavily reminiscent of the music used for both the introduction and transitions in a "Family Guy" episode. However as the movie progresses, later scenes are backed up by vibrant score pieces that contain pleasantly nostalgic homages to the work of the great John Williams, specifically the music he composed for Steven Spielberg's most well known films including "Raiders of the Lost Ark" and "E.T."
However as funny as "Ted" is, it didn't completely resonate with me because of several flaws. First off, there are the expected small amount of jokes that didn't completely hit the right chord of hilarity I expected them to, most notably the "Thunder Buddies" song. I'm sorry, but I never saw what was so funny in saying "F*ck you thunder, you can suck my dick," because it's really just too childish for my taste. In addition, MacFarlane's direction is notably stilted in the last act where he realizes that he has to wrap up the story. This got to a point where the comedy wasn't as existent in comparison to the previous acts, and it's also where this genre's cliches began to pile upon one another. On the other hand, the film's huge amount of funny scenes were able to more than make up the slippery slopes the last act takes on.
Compared to the other hit comedies that have released so far this year like "21 Jump Street" and "American Reunion," "Ted" manages to rise up to the occasion and stand alongside those two films as the best ones to release so far this year. If you've never grown accustomed to Seth MacFarlane's brand of exquisite humor, then there's little to no hope that this film is going to alter your perception of it. However for those of you who are a fan of some various form of his extensive comedy career, then I'm certain not many of you will be disappointed in the slightest with his foray into live-action feature filmmaking. One of the funniest movies I've seen in several years, "Ted" is a hilarious, crude, and all-around fun comedic adventure filled with surprise cameos and past decades nostalgia galore!
Final Grade: B+
Review of "Ted" on Youtube