Remember when we all wondered what a Simpsons feature film would be like? And then when it arrived we all collectively let out a great big “meh”? Bringing TV animation to the big screen just won’t work unless you try something different. Well with ted, Family Guy creator Seth McFarlane has given us a pretty good idea of how his show’s crass humour would work on the big screen.
The film opens in 1985 as a young outcast by the name of John Bennett (played by Boston’s favourite boy Mark Wahlberg) sees his wish become a reality as his new Christmas present becomes a walking, talking teddy-bear (voiced by McFarlane aka Peter Griffin). The world briefly gets excited as Ted becomes a major celebrity and talk-show regular. Fast-forward 27 years, John and Ted are still best friends and enjoy nothing more than sitting around getting stoned watching old Flash Gordon reruns, which is starting to take a serious toll on John’s relationship with Mila Kunis’ Lori.
Once you get over the ridiculousness of the film’s premise, and let’s not even pretend that we didn’t all baulk at that first trailer that introduced us to Ted and his foul mouth, it really is a joy to spend time with these characters. Family Guy doesn’t possess the same charm it did five or six years ago, but that’s probably just because things have become so formulaic and restrictive. With this in mind, it’s quite a relief to see McFarlane step out of his comfort zone of 20-minute TV animation and his script (which is co-written with Family Guy scribes Alec Sulkin and Wellesley Wild) zips along for most the film’s 105 minute runtime. And while it’s all pretty dumb college-style humour, it’s all damn funny which is the most important thing.
Wahlberg’s performance deserves credit as he’s happy to embrace the more serious straight-man alongside Ted. Wahlberg doesn’t often indulge his comedy chops with two flawed pictures, The Other Guys and Date Night, the only funny films on his recent resumé. McFarlane repays his beloved Meg Griffin, the always aesthetically-pleasing Mila Kunis, with a straight-forward female love interest role but despite the formulaic nature of things, you do actually start rooting for John and Lori to work things out.
Away from the lead cast, two guys deserve credit - Giovanni Ribisi as a creepy fan of Ted’s since childhood who wants to give him a new home, and Joel McHale as Rex, Lori’s boss. McHale really is the perfect asshole and with NBC’s Community entering its final season, you hope that he’ll be given more chances to impress on the big screen. There’s also plenty of fun cameos sprinkled throughout that it’s best not to spoil here.
There’s no denying that ted won’t be for everyone. The plot is close to paper-thin and the film is populated by jokes that may not be to everyone’s liking. But if you’re part of the target demographic (males 18-35), then there’s a big chance you going to take a lot home from the story of this cute wee teddy bear who says the filthiest things.
USA / Directed By: Seth MacFarlane / Written By: Seth MacFarlane, Alec Sulkin, Wellesley Wild / Starring: Mark Wahlberg, Mila Kunis, Seth MacFarlane, Joel McHale, Giovanni Ribisi / 106min / Comedy / Release: 29 June 2012 (US/Canada), 1 August 2012 (Irl/UK)