I had debated for a long time whether or not to see the feature-length directorial debut of Seth MacFarlane, creator of Family Guy. I worried that Ted would take things too far now that MacFarlane didn’t have TV censorship rules governing what he could and couldn’t include, but, after hearing how hilarious it was and reading several glowing reviews (including a 3.5/4 star review from my favorite film critic, Roger Ebert), I decided to give it a chance.
Ted had me laughing from the moment narrator Patrick Stewart (Star Trek: The Next Generation, X-Men) first introduced us to the characters. Despite his vulgarity, Ted, the title character (voiced by MacFarlane himself), manages to make you love him, and Mark Wahlberg (The Departed, The Fighter) brings laughs as John Bennett, who, as an 8-year-old boy wishes his new teddy bear was alive so that they could be friends forever. Mila Kunis (Family Guy, Black Swan) plays Lori Collins, John’s girlfriend of four years, who just wants John to finally grow up and marry her, which he can’t do with Ted still around.
The film really does feel like a live-action Family Guy film, complete with flashback cut scenes, cameos from most of the main cast (only Seth Green is absent), jokes about Jews and homosexuals, references to classic films (including an Indiana Jones reference that had me laughing hysterically, though it was widely missed by most audience members in my theater), and an instrumental accompaniment by Walter Murphy, who composes the music for every episode of the animated TV show.
Much of the film relies on the anticipation of seeing what crazy thing Ted does next. In most cases, his antics are hilarious, but there are a couple of instances when the jokes really do go too far.
The musical score by Walter Murphy was actually really enjoyable. It definitely sounded Family Guy-esque, but that is not a bad thing at all. I don’t actually own the soundtrack at the moment, but it fit in well with the film.
Overall, Seth MacFarlane’s Ted made me laugh throughout. Even the scenes that were meant to be more emotional and serious made people laugh because, hey, it’s a movie about a teddy bear who drinks and gets high on a constant basis. However, the curse words are rampant, the drugs and alcohol are found throughout, and there is even brief (and for me, unexpected) nudity/sexual content, so don’t go see this if any of that offends you. Though I knew that all this would be present, it brought down the quality of the film for me. Oh, and two more quick things: 1) Parents, please don’t bring your kids to this movie like the people in my theater did. Not even remotely kid-friendly. 2) It would greatly improve your enjoyment of the film if you were to see Flash Gordon (1980; starring Sam J. Jones) first. Just saying.
Rating: 3.5 (out of 5)
MPAA: R – for crude and sexual content, pervasive language, and some drug use