Ted (Seth Macfarlane) is one of the best-written comedy characters of recent years. A teddy bear that swears, screws, and gets high is a unique and memorable character that is, above all else, hilarious to watch on screen. Right from the get-go we have the tone set for us. This is one of hilarity and satire, mocking everything from Taylor Lautner to the teddy bear’s inability to have sex by traditional methods. Ted is a surprisingly good comedy, far funnier than I expected it to be; yet it still has some unnecessary scenes that prevent it from being hilarious from start to finish.
In the opening scene, we meet John Bennet (Mark Wahlberg), a kid so lonely he envies the boy getting beaten up on his block. On Christmas he wishes that his new stuffed bear could come to life to be his real best friend, and as luck would have it a shooting star makes his wish come true. His new best friend, Ted, soon becomes a sensation. But, like most celebrities, his fifteen minutes of fame end as quick as they began.
Skip forward to when John is 35 years old and working at a car rental shop. Ted is still his best friend, and John spends an unusually large amount of time hanging around with his stuffed bear, smoking weed and watching cheesy movies like Flash Gordon. His girlfriend Lori (Mila Kunis) is beautiful, smart, and loves him. She wants to move things forward in their relationship – a realistic desire many of us can associate with – yet this will never happen so long as Ted takes up all of John’s time. So she tells John that the bear should go out and find his own job and apartment, staying friends but letting the two of them move on with their lives. This is (at least for me) a reasonable proposal, yet much of the film devotes itself to John’s choice of devotion to both Ted and Lori. There’s also another story of a man (Giovanni Ribisi) who has desperately wanted since he was a child for Ted to be his, and he is willing to bribe or steal to get Ted. However, this subplot is only used to further the relationship between John and Ted.
Seth Macfarlane utilizes many popular culture references in his humor, an aspect that may make members of the audience howl with laughter now, but will reduce the potential longevity of the film’s comedic value. Ted’s comedy comes in many forms, which keeps it fresh enough to laughter for most of the film. Physical comedy is taken on in an unexpected fashion during a fight with the animated bear, in which punches are thrown, TVs crash, and glasses shatter. Verbal comedy is used on multiple levels, from simple Boston-accent profanities to the slipping in of edgy jokes during seemingly uninteresting narrative, and of course Macfarlane slips in plenty of random jokes about modern celebrities or current events.
Certainly a unique comedy, Ted did have moments that cracked me up. However, as a whole it could have been better, with the serious tone of John and Lori’s relationship toned down, as to better embrace the satire many of the scenes glorify. I enjoyed this film more than I expected to, and the creators did a good job in diverting from routine film jokes, yet I still feel it could’ve been more. Ted is a wonderfully conceived character, but the slow points in his tale break the movie into segments of great comedy and portions of waiting for the laughs to return.