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Ted

September 7, 2012
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Before I go any further, do you like Family Guy? If you do, read on, please. If not, well, you might to go off and read something else since you probably won’t like this film.

Ted is billed as a film by the creator of Family Guy, Seth Macfarlane, but in truth, with so many people from the show in the film and the overall tone, it can be more accurately described as a film by Family Guy. Christmas 1985, young John Bennett wishes that his teddy bear could really talk. Through the magic of narrative convenience, this comes to pass and John and Ted become best friends. Fastforward to 2012, John (Mark Wahlberg) and Ted (Voice by Seth Macfarlane) are still best friends, smoking marijuana at 9 in the morning. They’re content with their go-nowhere life but this attitude is not shared by John’s long-time girlfriend Lori (Mila Kunis). The premise of ‘bros versus hoes’ is set up quickly and left to run its course, with jokes being thrown about liberally.

I think it might be impossible to review this film without prior knowledge of Family Guy. Fans of the show will appreciate the mix of cutting cultural commentary, crude humour and physical violence. The latter made far funnier in real life; my favourite example is a tie between a brawl between John and Ted (because I felt Mark Wahlberg deserved it for his infuriating accent) and a scene where John punches a child square in the face. Honestly, it’s not cruel, it’s funny. Well, maybe a little cruel. Furthermore, Macfarlane’s penchant for cartoonish sound effects and score and shameless film parodies are transferred to the big screen. Those unfamiliar with Family Guy might fail to see how all this is funny, or even tasteful. Those who dislike Family Guy will be disappointed to see 106 minutes of the same.

However, while much of the formula remains unchanged, Ted does break out by maintaining the (admittedly straightforward) plot for the entire film, without letting it go stale. I would offer kudos to Seth Macfarlane for trying out new characters and situations but it seems that whenever he wants to do that, he just invents a new show. The characters strive for a comfortable level of emotional depth, enough for the audience to engage with but nothing tear-jerking or life-changing.

The acting is standard. Wahlberg and Kunis (and the rest of the cast from Family Guy) carry the pace without appearing too contrived or wooden. I have the sneaking suspicion that Mila Kunis might be an alright actor as well as being ridiculously hot. She so distractingly attractive that it’s frankly annoying. Seth Macfarlane gives us Peter Griffin in a bear costume.

I know I keep going on about Family Guy but that is the real litmus test. If you like that, you’ll probably like Ted. If you’re in the right mood, it’s a very funny film. If not, there are plenty of supposedly good films coming out now, like Anna Karenina. And when all else fails, there’s Dredd 3D.

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