“Ted” Movie Review

     I have to admit after seeing the trailer for "Ted", the first thought that came to my mind was it looked stupid.  I've never watched "Family Guy", so this being Seth MacFarlane's feature directing debut didn't scream "must see" at me either.  I always talk about comedies where all the funniest bits are in the trailer and yet, the trailer for "Ted" really wasn't all that funny.  For reasons unknown, I found myself in a theater on opening night seeing "Ted" and as it turns out it may be one of the better choices I've made all summer.  The film, pure and simple, is a laugh riot.  It's vulgar and raunchy, but in a funny and highly effective way.  What I thought would be a comic version of "Child's Play" turned out to be the funniest film of the year so far.

     I'm thinking Seth MacFarlane had a number of strict television boundaries he followed while working on "Family Guy" and it's clear he was able to let it all out with "Ted".  Above all, the screenwriting here is the highlight.  MacFarlane works each comic line for full effect and is always within the lines drawn for the story.  We never get a sketch type scene thrown in for an easy laugh that doesn't further the plot. This allows "Ted" to move along briskly and gives the audience the sensation of a constant smile for the entire two hour running time.

     Mark Wahlberg has proven to be quite adept at playing these comic roles and his work in "Ted" proves him to be the perfect compliment to his CGI counterpart.  The film, of course, is named after a teddy bear given to a young boy by his parents for Christmas.  The boy wishes his teddy bear was alive and the next morning he wakes up and the bear is walking and talking (Just stay with me here).  Rather than having this play out like typical films where only the boy knows he's alive, MacFarlane goes for instant comic effect when he stages a scene where the parents meet "Ted" for the first time.  At that point we learn "Ted" becomes a national celebrity, but like all child stars, he fades into oblivion and continues to be at the boy's side as he grows.

     When the film moves forward to present day, we meet John Bennett (Wahlberg) now grown and his bear "Ted" as they live a life of pot smoking and laziness in Boston. John's live in girlfriend, Lori (Mila Kunis), seems okay with the arrangement but antics by Ted slowly change her thinking.  In one scene, the couple comes home to find Ted with four hookers and is repulsed when they find a gift left on the floor by one of them.  Yes, MacFarlane, who also voices Ted, must've had a great time writing this script!

     The film is filled with numerous pop culture references from the 1980s which even includes an appearance by Sam Jones (Flash Gordon) himself.  In one of many funny references, Lori finds out the "Imperial March" theme plays as a ringtone on John's phone when she calls him.  She doesn't know what it is, but tells John "It sounds menacing.".  In another scene, one of the characters ring tone is the theme from “Knight Rider.” These types of references are endless and if your a movie buff around 35-40 years old than it would appear as though MacFarlane has made a film just for you.

     The framework of "Ted" really never wavers and stays within the confines of the budding John/Lori relationship versus the John/Ted relationship scenario.  Everything that happens is a result of that conflict and though the film goes the sentimental route in it's third act, it is never misses the mark as a pure comedy.  Whereas a number of films this year have been merely average comedies ("Dark Shadows") or steaming piles of garbage ("The Dictator", "That's My Boy"), "Ted" is a pleasant surprise in the mold of "40 Year Old Virgin" or "Wedding Crashers".  While you must suspend your disbelief and not be easily offended, the experience in store is sure to please.  I wouldn't be surprised over time to be referring back to "Ted" as an example of one of the better comedy scripts in the last decade. GRADE: B+