Ted is Family Guy creator, Seth McFarlane’s first entry into the world of not only feature films but also live action. As such, Ted draws heavily from McFarlane’s deadpan style of humour that we’ve come to know; thankfully that isn’t a bad thing.
A Christmas wish brings Ted, the teddy bear, to life and at the same time, a best friend for John. Twenty something years later and the innocent kids have transformed into adults of the stoner variety. In spite of their friendship, Ted is forced to leave as John begins his journey into true maturity, and a life his girlfriend.
From the get go, we are introduced to the first obvious Family Guy appropriation – namely, the voice of Ted himself as acted by McFarlane; Ted’s voice sounds remarkably like Peter Griffin from the hit animated show minus the mannerisms. I don’t mind this choice as the voice suits the role and Ted himself takes a shot at himself, denying that his voice sounds like Griffin’s – a nice touch given the criticism he would receive.
While Ted is arguably the soul of the film, the cast comes together nicely (and oddly enough Mark Wahlberg settles in rather well), exchanging classic zingers and one liners with expert timing. It’s this great chemistry that allows the film to flow so nicely through a plot that is fundamentally derivative and unoriginal. This however is the cue to inject some nitro…
The humour, which is typically a constant factor, is mature in nature, but not going so far as to become cringy; yes it does straddle the line between tasteful and outright gross but even in its grossness, manages to amuse very easily. Make no mistake, this is a showcase for Seth McFarlane’s signature style of comedy and the frequent pop-culture references and pot-shots add another dimension to what may have just been a mature comedy with a simple gimmick. One particular instance is the running joke of the Flash Gordon movie and how it influenced the duo of John and Ted during their formative years.
One thing I noticed is that Ted’s structure plays out more like an extended episode of a sitcom rather than a feature film; this is by far the most refreshing aspect as sometimes it’s nice to indulge in one’s short attention span (I know I did). Reinforcing this is the aforementioned Flash Gordon joke that frequently resurfaces; this is a typical element of TV sitcoms and it works just as well on in the big screen. In fact, I could really go so far as to call this an extension of McFarlane’s Family Guy as it shares so many common elements (except that it isn’t dull and uninspired, as has been the case with the latest seasons).
Walking out of Ted, I realised that I had not laughed this much in a movie since…well, since Borat (which says a lot about the humour that I enjoy) and that alone deserves to be admired – the fact that my cheeks were in pain by the credits is a testament to how this film could cheer me up. Just like Anchorman did back in 2004, Ted will claim a place as a film that lives not by its story but by its characters and one dialogue i.e. the film that you’ll be watching 100 times and still not grow bored of it.
As an R-rated comedy, its appeal isn’t for everyone. However, I cannot recommend it more to fans of pop-culture as Ted is chockablock with references – a similarity that it shares with McFarlane’s Family Guy series. It is crude, and if you can take it, then you won’t regret it.
The Bottom Line
Ted shares many similarities with McFarlane’s previous work – everything from the humour and cameos to the characters and pacing just scream it out loud. But to be honest, I don’t have any problem with that. The film is funny beyond words and is especially relevant to pop-culture aficionados..