After making his name with the animated comedy shows Family Guy, American Dad and The Cleveland Show, writer-director Seth MacFarlane arrives with Ted, his frequently funny, intermittently hilarious, but ultimately unbalanced and shallow big screen debut.
To the uninitiated, MacFarlane is the creative mind behind Family Guy and its spin-off shows American Dad and The Cleveland Show. In Ted, there is no mistaking MacFarlane's particular brand of comedy, both in the irreverent content and well-timed delivery of its humour. Ted opens by telling the story of a small boy, John Bennett, who on Christmas night wishes for his new teddy bear to come to life. Miraculously, his wish comes true, and John and Ted, as he names the bear, become overnight celebrities. However, as Patrick Stewart's narrator informs us in a reference-dropping introduction typical of MacFarlane, 'No matter how big a splash you make in this world, whether you're Corey Feldman, Frankie Muniz, Justin Bieber or a talking teddy bear, eventually, nobody gives a shit'. The credits roll, and we skip ahead several decades where both boy and bear have (ostensibly) grown up. The premise is thus: perpetual man-boy lacks the motivation to grow up and A) progress his career, B) show his commitment to his long-suffering girlfriend in *apparently the only way women characters can ever understand or expect* by proposing to her, and most crucially, C) ditch his loveable but loser buddy. The novelty of course is that that the main character's buddy is a magic, foul-mouthed, over-sexed teddy bear in an otherwise mundane and realistic world. However, magic bear or no magic bear, it's an incredibly familiar set up, and the plot trundles along at a very predictable rhythm hitting all the story beats you'd expect, with the inevitable second-act conflict practically telegraphed by flashing neon signs. It's a shame, because by confining itself to such formulaic rom-com plotting, the film is never fully allowed to explore the comic potential of having a foul-mouthed celebrity teddy bear running riot.
|Ted proves a crude but likeable comic creation|
|John and Ted: Thunderbuddies for life|
For a debut feature, Ted is a perfectly serviceable, and on occasion, very funny comedy. In the eponymous bear, MacFarlane has crafted a very likeable and enjoyable comic character, and many scenes replicate his TV-based humour at its best and most irreverent. Fans of MacFarlane's previous work are certain to be satisfied, even delighted with MacFarlane's first feature, but Ted's strengths are tempered by the fact that it repeats many of Family Guy et al's mistakes, with a bland and uninteresting central story populated with clichéd supporting characters, topped by two relatively likeable but ultimately boring paper-thin leads.