Teddy bear both cuddly and crude
Ted Starring Mark Wahlberg, Mila Kunis, Seth MacFarlane (voice), Joel McHale, Giovanni Ribisi, Patrick Warburton, Jessica Barth, Norah Jones. Written and directed by Seth MacFarlane. 106 minutes, R13 (offensive language, drug use, sexual content), showing at Reading Cinemas Porirua. Released during the school holidays, Ted has the potential to upset naive mums and dads in the same way Tarantino bloodbath True Romance once traumatised movie-goers expecting a romantic comedy.
The scheduling may just be a coincidence – following closely on its United States release – but you wouldn’t put it past writerdirector Seth MacFarlane ( Family Guy) to delight at the prospect of corrupting kiddies and punishing their parents for not doing their research.
Either way, cinema staff are being particularly vigilant ensur- ing children under 13 don’t find themselves at the mercy of Ted, an obnoxious teddy bear who’s as crude as he is cuddly.
What starts out as a wholesome Christmas fable – the most unpopular kid in Boston, John Bennett, has his wish for a real living teddy bear granted – soon heads for the gutter when we find John (Mark Wahlberg) and Ted in their mid-30s smoking bongs and obsessing over their favourite childhood film, Flash Gordon.
Their vow to be best friends for life is holding thick, but it’s also holding John back. His personal and professional life have been stunted from too much horsing about with his teddy bear.
Lori (Mila Kunis, who voices Meg on Family Guy), his girlfriend of four years, is growing impatient with her man-child’s arrested development and increasingly infuriated with Ted.
A refreshing step away from convention is that Ted is no secret – he doesn’t revert to stuffed fluff when other people walk into the room. He is quickly outed as a ‘‘Christmas miracle’’ and becomes a national celebrity.
However, MacFarlane drolly proposes the public’s fascination for a teddy bear- come- to- life would be little different to a child star. Hence, we have one cynical, off-the-rails adult teddy on our hands, but one who generates a crucial nugget of sympathy.
Had MacFarlane simply repackaged Family Guy’s exasperating idiot patriarch Peter Griffin, we’d give-up on Ted after 10 minutes.
Though it’s fair to say, those who love or hate MacFarlane’s animated shows will hold Ted in the same regard. Much of the humour is joyously un-PC, and ranges from subtle Boston injokes to the most basic dick and fart gags. The storyline does tread familiar turf – we’ve seen similar slackers in Knocked Up, The 40 Year Old Virgin and I Love You, Man, but MacFarlane’s unbridled comic talent and enthusiasm ensures the picture’s appeal is irresistible.
Bad news bear: An incorrigible soft toy come to life leads his owner and best bud John (Mark Wahlberg) to a life of arrested adolescence in the very funny but also very naughty Ted.