By John wirt
October 26, 2012
Ted begins with a Christmas night wish. A friendless boy on the mean streets of a Boston suburb wishes his new teddy bear can be the one true friend he’s never had.
“I wish you could really talk to me, because then we could be friends forever,” John Bennett tells the stuffed brown bear he’s so creatively named Teddy.
The next morning, John discovers that his teddy bear, like the Frankenstein monster, is alive.
Going downstairs, John introduces Teddy to his parents. Scares the heck out of them.
In fundamental ways, Ted, a funny, raunchy film from Seth MacFarlane, that inventive guy behind the animated TV series Family Guy, American Dad! and The Cleveland Show, is a familiar tale of prolonged adolescence. But MacFarlane gives the usual R-rated raunchiness featuring men and boys behaving badly a magical twist.
Director and co-writer MacFarlane also speaks for the movie’s title character.
In a working-class New England accent, MacFarlane renders Ted as an everyman bear who, despite all the nasty things he does and profane things he says, is a cute little charmer.
Roughly medium-sized as teddy bears go, the computer-animated Ted moves naturally amidst the live action around him.
Advancement in the art and science of computer-animation lets MacFarlane’s great idea work seamlessly on film. Watching Ted on screen, it’s easy to accept that he’s the real talking teddy bear deal.
When the world learns about Ted, he becomes a celebrity. He even makes a guest appearance with the greatest of all talk show hosts, Johnny Carson.
The Ted screenplay by MacFarlane and two of his Family Guy collaborators, Alec Sulkin and Wellesley Wild, takes more clever turns. For example, even though Ted is the only one of his kind to ever walk the Earth, his novelty wears off, the public grows tired of him. Never much smarter than the average bear, he’s got to get an average job.
Following a quick history of Ted’s rise and fall from fame, the story moves to its central conflict. John, with the help of Ted, a lifelong companion who’s always up for doing stupid, albeit fun, stuff, never quite grows up. His girlfriend, Lori, loves him deeply, but his inability to be a responsible adult frustrates her. Her 35-year-old boyfriend hasn’t outgrown his teddy bear.
Ted gives Mark Wahlberg, an actor who’s had his greatest success in dramatic roles, his funniest comedy. Playing a character who’s from the same part of the world as his boxer character in The Fighter, Wahlberg also has his funniest comedic partner in Ted. They are such an in-sync pair. And the duo’s bear and human chemistry is warmer and more genuine than most human with human screen pairings.
Co-starring as John’s long-suffering girlfriend, Mila Kunis simultaneously succeeds in being a normal, sensible young woman and, as her obnoxious boss can’t help but notice, smolderingly attractive. Kunis shares scenes with a troublesome teddy bear so persuasively that her character, sympathetic though she is, credibly appears to wish Ted weren’t real.
A summer surprise, the endearing Ted is on track for being the season’s runaway comedy hit.