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When you think of your childhood stuffed animal, you probably think of something warm and fuzzy, something cherished and sentimental. What you don’t think of is a crude, pot-smoking, politically incorrect, sexually promiscuous teddy bear that works as a grocery store checkout clerk and lives in his own studio apartment in downtown Boston. Am I right or am I right?
For Ted’s protagonist John Bennett (Mark Wahlberg), this is the reality of his stuffed animal, the result of a wish made as a lonely child in the ‘80s. After receiving a large teddy bear for Christmas, young John names the bear Ted and wishes him into a walking, talking, lifelong friend. And the bear becomes just that. Nearly thirty years later, his friendship with Ted begins to wreak havoc on his life, particularly his relationship with four-year flame Lori (Mila Kunis), and man-child John is forced to make a decision about whether or not to leave his past behind for good.
With writer Seth MacFarlane behind the script, most well-known for his outrageous FOX series Family Guy, I knew I’d be in for some crude, tasteless humor. And it turns out Ted’s got more Family Guy attributes in it than that. To name a few:
- The voice of Seth MacFarlane. In Ted, his New England accent – thick like clam chowdah – comes alive in the form of a teddy bear instead of a fat man.
- Set up, joke, set up, joke. Predictably entertaining.
- Excessive fight scenes. Think extravagant hotel brawl between Ted and John: wrestling across a hotel room, lots of punching in the face, smashing glass and breaking televisions.
- Politically incorrect humor that is 100% unapologetic.
- And finally, the satire of and references to popular culture (and even some unforeseen celebrity cameos).
What I wasn’t expecting with this film was such a soft-spot in MacFarlane, as Ted’s characters explore childhood versus adulthood and gain insight into the transformative nature of relationships. Don’t get me wrong: these life lessons aren’t anything ground-breaking, but they’re a nice temporary distraction from the consistently offensive and vulgar humor present throughout. In a way, the film is almost self-deprecating, a cheesy depiction of the Hollywood formula in which romance, sentiment and humor all align to form a perfectly packaged story.
I had my doubts about Ted before it hit theaters. But this one’s got the bear necessities for a satisfying film: a lot of humor and a little bit of heart. And in my opinion, you can’t ask for a better combination than that.