TAG | Joel McHale
Looking back as a kid I can think of a lot of toys I would have liked to come to life and keep me company and none of them would have been a stuffed teddy bear. However, I think Family Guy creator Seth MacFarlane took the right approach in using one because if making a movie about every pubescent boy’s real dream about having an anatomically correct Barbie doll come to life we would have been watching an even more disturbing film. A talking teddy is shocking enough in a real life setting, but in TED the result is surprisingly honest and even sweet, even with all the crude sex jokes and grossly offensive racially charged humor. The unfortunate thing about the film is that much like the most recent Family Guy seasons, where the best jokes are uproariously funny and a handful also land with a resounding thud.
According to TED there is nothing more powerful than a little boy’s wish (except am Apache helicopter) and a young John Bennett wish is that his new Christmas present, a stuffed teddy bear, would come to life and be his friend for life. Much to everyone’s surprise Ted does come to life and the two become and remain best friends into adulthood even after Ted’s brief run as a minor celebrity until people just stopped caring. Now as an adult John (Mark Wahlberg) is in a serious relationship with Lori (Mila Kunis) and he spends most of his time getting high on his couch with Ted when he’s not slacking at his job at a rental car outlet. Lori wants John to grow up, take more responsibility and ask Ted to move out, which turns out to be much more difficult than any of them could have predicted.
TED’s most obvious comparison is to MacFarlane’s most popular creation, Family Guy. The film is an almost two hour expansion of the same style of humor except with a lot more relationship drama and some nice friendship sentiments that I wasn’t necessarily expecting. The script has everything you’ve ever come to expect from the hit animated TV show all the way up to an over-the-top fight that mimics the infamous Peter Griffin vs. Giant Chicken fight except on a much smaller scale. The dialogue and the way the jokes are delivered hit the same beats and even the flashbacks have the same vibe to them, except given its real life style it is obviously more down to earth.
Mark Wahlberg and Mila Kunis’ relationship has its moments, but I never felt like it was fleshed out as much as it could’ve been as is there chemistry on screen. Wahlberg isn’t near as fun as he has been in other more comedic roles while Kunis is also very enjoyable, but also not as much as in previous roles. MacFarlane on the other hand as the voice of Ted delivers the films funniest and most heartfelt moments- fitting as he’s the title character and often the central focus of the film. He spends a lot of screen time spouting off lots of pop culture jabs, racial slurs and ridiculously vulgar sex related humor- his voice has a distinctly similar sound to Family Guy’s loveable egghead Peter Griffin, which is also used as a punch line at one point. The aforementioned jokes have their highs and lows, but the highs vastly outweigh the lows, although the extended Family Guy style humor tends to get a bit old by the end.
The animation of Ted is actually pretty spectacular- his interaction with people and the environment are almost seamless. There’s a particularly touching moment during the beginning introduction where the newly alive Ted hugs the young version of John and from then on out if not for the outlandish idea of a living teddy bear it be easy to be fooled that what you are seeing is a living breathing teddy bear.
Something refreshing about MacFarlane’s style is that he never dips into an overuse of modern music and instead uses quite of a bit of swing style songs that fit far better than some poorly chosen hip hop tune or overplayed pop song. There is a very palpable obsession with Flash Gordon from beginning to end, that surprisingly doesn’t get too annoying every time it comes back into play. MacFarlane’s approach to live action has its hiccups in terms of the sometimes rocky transitions to flashbacks and also with certain sound cues that sound as though they’d fit better in a cartoon than in a live action feature.
If not for a few inconsistencies in the vast amount of jokes being hurled at the screen and some dips in the film’s momentum TED could very well have been a contender for best comedy of the year. Seth MacFarlane has proven himself capable of creating and sustaining an incredible amount of comedic energy as evident in the immensely successful Family Guy series and it seems that TED dips into that well a few too many times to be something truly unique. However, due to quite a few laugh out loud sequences and jokes, an undeniably fun and touching bond between John and his talking bear and a satisfying bit of genuine heart towards the end, TED rises above its faults to be a very fun bit of comedic cinema. It’s a film tailor made for fans of Family Guy and MacFarlane’s other projects but proves itself to be filled with more than just useless stuffing.
Written By: Luke (@CrummyLuke on Twitter)
What happens when you combine Family Guy’s goofy and offensive humor and romantic comedy? The answer is TED. Mark Wahlberg stars in TED, from the creator of Family Guy Seth MacFarlane who also provides the voice of the stuffed teddy. The story centers around a grown man, John, that still lives with his childhood teddy bear named Ted who is more than just a regular teddy bear but one that walks, talks, smokes weed, curses and even gets a job. When John meets Lor (Mila Kunis) the sparks fly and their relationship progresses but Ted is a strain on their relationship and John has to convince Ted to get a job and move out.
This movie looks absolutely ridiculous but if you’re a fan of Family Guy like me, you can’t help but recognize the mind at work here and believe that the film will be pretty hilarious. The red band trailer is full of f-bombs and the kind of jokes that at times sound like leftover material from an un-aired Family Guy episode and others that feel legitamatly funny. There’s a particular bit right at the end where Wahlberg spews rapid fire “trailer trash” names at Ted until he guesses the right one- the funny part being how long it goes on. Family Guy fans probably won’t be able to but hear how similar Ted’s voice is to the cartoon’s chubby but loveable dad, Peter, even though Ted’s voice is a bit more baritone.
TED hits theaters on July 13, 2012. The film was also directed by Seth MacFarlane and stars Giovanni Ribisi, Patrick Warburton and Joel McHale.
What do you think of the red band trailer for TED?
With the number of movies being written, made and released on a year to year basis isn’t it just expected that more than just a handful will skate on familiar territory? Romantic comedies suffer far too often from being watered down for mass audiences just to pander to the crowds that want the mushy material to push out the vulgar. WHAT’S YOUR NUMBER at times refuses to hide its vulgar side but eventually sells itself out for a more conventional and poorly conceived finale that tries to overshadow its vulgarity with overdone romantic clichés.
Anna Faris stars as Ally, a young girl who happens to read a little too deep into the quizzes and factoids from popular feminine magazines. After being fired from her job, Ally reads that any girl with over 20 sexual partners often never finds that special someone and Ally is hovering on 19 sexual partners. After a drunken escapade leaves her with no wiggle room on the over 20 partners rule she decides that the only way to find her special someone is to sift through her former lovers to find chemistry without raising her number. With the help of her neighbor, Captain Ameri- I mean Colin (Chris Evans), she tracks down each ex in hopes one of them has improved over time and will want to marry her.
I usually really like Anna Faris even if the movie she’s in usually fails to move or entertain me on any spectacular level. The same goes here as I somewhat enjoyed WHAT’S YOUR NUMBER because Faris and Evans have enough chemistry and comedic timing to make the film funny- at least during the first half. Faris’ character has a cute personality but spouts lines that paint her as incredibly shallow which I find to be extremely unlikable. Then there’s Chris Evans, who doesn’t attempt to hide his obvious character flaws which are bad enough but at least he is honest about what he’s doing. Neither have much to work with as far as the script goes- except the filmmakers invent just about every situation possible to get images of Faris’ side boob, Evan’s covering his genitals and eventually both of them exposing their “assets.”
WHAT’S YOUR NUMBER attempts to be as R rated as recent rom coms like LOVE & OTHER DRUGS and FRIENDS WITH BENEFITS but the writing just isn’t as quick or as interesting as either of those two films which are not perfect, but better examples of the genre recently. There are times when the film and the actors hit a grove and can get a few good laughs but when we get closer to the end it gets more and more generic until it totally fizzles out.
Evans does a good job playing a cocky bachelor and his character mixes well with Faris who has always had pretty great comedic timing as far as female actresses are concerned. Together they offer enough good natured laughs and vulgar fun but as romantic interests they don’t quite fit. When they are sparring back and forth you can feel the chemistry, but when the mushy feelings start coming out it doesn’t feel as natural and the sparks just aren’t there.
With sparse romantic chemistry and somewhat weak jokes WHAT’S YOUR NUMBER comes off more generic than it ultimately is. Evans and Faris have on and off moments of charming and vulgar comedy and the supporting cast of ex boyfriends provide some decent laughs. The script sometimes relies too heavily on retreading its own jokes (Twitter being the source of more than a few) and often doesn’t try to push the boundaries enough to be truly memorable. There are worse examples of the raunchy rom com movies within the genre but with a decent cast and slightly above average jokes WHAT’S YOUR NUMBER could have added up to something much better.