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Do you enjoy humor relating to drugs, alcohol, prostitution, and pop culture? Or, in other words, do you like the TV show Family Guy? If the answer to that question is no, do not go anywhere near the movie Ted.
The film has all of the great Seth MacFarlane classic go-to’s: an anthropomorphized main character (Ted) in a world that instantly accepts the anthropomorphism as a reality, a man-boy protagonist (Mark Walberg) who has some growing up to do, witty one-liners, ridiculous situations, and comedy derived largely from outrageousness.
However, the movie also comes with a bunch of the typical Seth MacFarlane pitfalls, including uninteresting female characters (sorry Lois/Meg, you guys were always the worst), occasional clichés, and, most annoyingly, the length of joke set-ups oftentimes off-sets or even outweighs the payoff of the eventual punch line.
If those were the only issues with the film, it would be well-worth seeing for all fans of slapstick comedy. However, that’s unfortunately not the case. In fact, my biggest issue with Ted likely had nothing to do with Seth MacFarlane’s writing, directing, or vision, and probably didn’t have anything to do with Seth MacFarlane at all. The problem with Ted, at its core, is that the movie didn’t understand what it was. Rather than treat itself with consistency and understanding that Ted was a funny, escapist, quick-witted, magical realism encapsulated comedy that’s purpose was to entertain (like it was billed as), whoever edited the film decided that the last 20 minutes, along with sporadic segments throughout the beginning and middle of the movie, were going to be right out of a below average romantic comedy (I’m looking at you, Friends with Benefits).
Now, I understand why the studio (and possibly MacFarlane) would want this. A romantic comedy is markedly more marketable than a comedy about a talking teddy bear. The problem is, I don’t think the romantic comedy fans out there (myself being one of them) want to sit through an hour of a teddy bear doing bong rips to feel warm and fulfilled inside at the end of this movie. Even I, as a huge romantic comedy proponent, felt letdown by the sappy ending to this film, mostly because it just wasn’t what I was expecting. If I wanted to watch a cliché-filled movie to make me feel like true love does exist, there is justice in this world, and it’s all going to be okay in the end, I would have happily gone on Netflix and ordered Notting Hill, Clueless, or any of the countless other amazing RomComs out there. When I go see a Seth MacFarlane feature, I don’t want to go three minutes without audibly laughing, let alone 20.
On the acting front, I never thought I would say these words, but: I think this movie needed a little (or a lot) less Mila Kunis. Look, she’s gorgeous, and a pretty good actress to boot, but there’s no way around it: Kunis is straight-up not funny, and that outweighs whatever good she brought to the role with her looks and charisma. I would have preferred an Emma Stone-type of actress, who could have accentuated the comedic moments rather than the sappy romantic ones.
I generally love Joel McHale’s work, but he was unfairly typecast as the ‘douchey boss’ character in Ted, and although he did a fine job in the role, it was a waste of his talents to have him play a cliché.
Mark Wahlberg isn’t very funny in this movie either, but I think he did a good job as the more straight-laced but easily coerced counterpart to MacFarlane’s Ted character. The chemistry between them was quite good, and it helped to underscore the highlight of the film: Ted himself. About 80% of the funny lines in this movie are thanks to MacFarlane’s Ted.
Additionally, without revealing anything too specific, I will say that Ryan Reynolds’ cameo in this movie was one of the best parts of the film, and he did an amazing job in the (small) role.
“It was basically Get Him to The Greek,” quipped my buddy Nick, in our conversation after going to see Ted with a group of friends. In a lot of ways, Nick is right: both of those movies are basically about two guys going on a journey together, one character needing to grow up (Wahlberg in Ted, Russel Brand in Greek), and, the similarity that Nick was pointing at in that quote, both movies have one scene in the middle that is the epitome of comedy (The ‘Furry Wall’ scene in Greek, and all I will describe as the ‘Coke’ scene in Ted), whereas the rest of the film is mediocre in comparison.
Unlike Get Him to the Greek though, Ted had the cast of a romantic comedy rather than slapstick comedy, and tries at the end to live up to its cast more than its writer/director.
Even though it wasn’t perfect, I am really happy this movie got made. In an era of continual re-boots, sequels, and awful adaptations (hello, Dark Shadows), I’m happy that an original idea made it to the big screen, and for that I commend the studio.
If you had asked me at the one hour mark, I would have told you Ted was on par with Super Bad, The Hangover, and films of that ilk, but because of its lack of fluidity in message, in total, I’ll give the movie a ‘solid,’ meaning it’s worth seeing for fans of MacFarlane’s other work, but it’s definitely not ubiquitously funny, and certainly not for everybody.