By Stephanie Zacharek
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Fans of Seth MacFarlane’s Fox mainstay Family Guy who wish he would run afoul of FCC regulations every week might be pleased with Ted, the story of a 35-year-old man and his foul-talking teddy bear. Plushies, too, might be turned on by the pot-smoking, whore-banging CGI toy ursus of the title, voiced by MacFarlane, making his feature-directing debut, which he co-scripted with Family Guy writers Alec Sulkin and Wellesley Wild. Other specialized demographics—namely, anyone over 15 who can’t claim membership in either of the above groups—might sit in the theater in stony silence.
The film begins in 1985—the middle of the decade whose pop-cultural detritus will be fetishized continually in Ted—when eight-year-old pariah John Bennett wishes upon a Christmas-night star that his new, cuddly gift could speak. A montage during the opening credits highlights three decades of their insoluble bond: The now-talking Ted rises and falls from beloved Johnny Carson guest to louche celebrity washout; scrawny John becomes Mark Wahlberg and starts dating Lori (Mila Kunis). Kunis’s role isn’t developed much beyond those quick, silent intro shots: Once tirelessly understanding of the relationship between her layabout boyfriend of four years who can barely get to his rental-car job on time and his longtime comfort object, Lori now demands that Ted move out of the Boston apartment the three have been sharing so that John will finally grow up. The man and his toy might now have separate addresses, but Ted can still activate John’s id, encouraging him to break a date with Lori on the promise of snorting coke with Sam Jones—Flash Gordon himself.
Ted’s overextended, desultory 104 minutes—which include a kidnapping, a car chase, a set piece propelled by Tiffany’s “I Think We’re Alone Now” video, and a Norah Jones concert—also operate on the premise that audiences can’t resist having their baser instincts appealed to over and over again, especially when the filthy talk, gay panic, and racist jokes pour forth from as dissonant a figure as a stuffed animal. But does the bear really look that dissimilar to—or function that much differently from—Seth Rogen, Jonah Hill, Jason Segel, or any other round-bellied bad influence from movies made under the sign of Apatow during the past five years? Like its buddy-movie predecessors, Ted has a soft, squishy ending, one meant to vindicate Lori, even if the film has so little use for Kunis—or any female who doesn’t want to spread her legs for Ted.
It’s dispiriting enough to witness Kunis still waiting for a comic lead role worthy of her. But the usually nimble Wahlberg—who at least has one great moment rattling off “white-trash girls’ names”—suffers the most, playing second fiddle to a knee-high Gund knockoff.
just saw it and found it really funny.. see it expecting to laugh, not analyze. have fun it's a hoot. let's lighten up here, folks
(young 30's female not part of any of the groups melissa mentioned. do think it helps if you were born in the 80's )
Chicks just don't get them. Not Missy's fault (of course). Y'know -- why guys get tired of "talking about their feelings" and "being sensitive."
Yeah, the No. 2 by "the whore" was over the top. And Seth supports gay marriage. Life goes on.
I get what the reviewer's saying, but methinks she's taking it WAY too seriously. I saw this movie yesterday and it's freakin' hysterical. The "plot" is incidental, the movie is basically a vehicle for MacFarlane to let loose as the juxtaposition of a foul-mouthed, yet cuddly teddy bear. Question for Melissa Anderson...I agree Mila Kunis needs a decent role but would anyone go to a movie like this expecting that? "Audiences can’t resist having their baser instincts appealed to over and over again" - maybe so, but I went to this fully knowing what to expect and guess what? I laughed anyway. A movie like this is entertainment, not art, no matter how much you consider that lamentable.
Melissa, I was one of the stony faced. Makes me feel genuinely sad to think that's the best I can hope to see in the cinema these days - hard to believe, but it was even worse than The Dictator. Ye gods, what a sorry state of affairs. I long for Preston Sturges, or Oscar Wilde, or Buster Keaton or even Chevy Chase!
If you don't like the movie, don't watch it? That's like saying, if you don't like the new restaurant, don't eat there.
you are soo wrong. I am a 56 year old woman who does not care for Family guy, loved Ted, really funny, laughed throughout.
Lighten up. I'm not in any of the targets you identify (55 year old professional), but I do have a sense of humor, a sense of the absurd, a sense of joy. I loved Ted. I think McFarlane is a genius.
I'm inclined to say that movie critics are dumb. Why anyone listens to them is beyond me. Either you like a movie or you don't. If you want to know of a movie is worth seeing, ask a friend or see the damn thing and take a chance. I know money is tight for a lot of people ( me included) but its not like your buying a car here. Enjoy the show folks!
I’ve always wanted to design an IQ test made up of 100 jokes with some kind of device that measured whether the person being tested actually “got” the jokes. It’s a simple concept. If you “get” a joke, you gain points, increase your IQ, etc... If you don’t get it, you don’t gain any points, lower IQ, etc… What Ms. Anderson and a small handful of other reviewers don’t; seem to “get” is that Seth McFarlane’s (who btw is openly gay)humor is intended to be absurd and ironic. In other words, McFarlane’s humor is intended to illustrate the stupidity of something like racism by demonstrating how absurd these views actually are. Ms. Anderson flunked her IQ test. The packed theater of diverse movie goers who laughed so hard and so loud that they actually drowned out significant parts of the movie is applying to the Mensa Society.
I don't claim membership to any of your "groups", am in my twenties, and I found this movie hilarious (probably because I lack a stick up my ass and appreciate irony). You are entitled to an opinion however your analysis of the movie couldn't be any farther off. I guess not every one can just laugh at absurd social views and just have a good time.
...or maybe Ms Anderson may be one of a shrinking number of people who think that standards are good for something other than for vulgar pukes like McFarlane to defecate all over. If it weren't for such things like standards, infantile scum like him would still be hunter-gathering.
Holy crap this isn't a "Oscar" type movie so don't review it as such. Someone either needs to get laid or get off her feminist high horse. Nothing to see here besides a New York writer full of herself.
Or that she thinks Mila Kunis is actually "worthy" of better material. Does she not understand why Ms. Kunis keeps getting cast in these movies? Chicks...
@Guerrmo He isn't openly gay, he's been dating Emilia Clarke so at most he's bi but he hasn't come out and said anything about his sexuality. He's supportive of gay rights. Straight people can be supportive of gay rights (such as I am).
I was also in a packed theatre, and there were jokes that fell completely flat, meaning not a single person laughed. There is a difference between not getting it, and not being funny. I find it "funny" people are so protective of Ted. It wasn't really that funny. A few good spots, but I doubt I'll watch it again. I feel like most of it was forced. People felt like they HAD to laugh.
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