Movie Review: Ted
As once so perfected dissected, examined, and then blown apart by the brilliant creative minds behind South Park, the comedy of Seth MacFarlane is for the most part, the same joke over and over again. That forms the basis of Ted, a putrid, offensive excrement of a movie that lingers far too long and as a funnier comedian would write, ‘stings the nostrils.’
That is not to say that MacFarlane’s directorial debut, in which a boy’s childhood teddy bear becomes animated and grows to be a beer-drinking, pot-smoking, sex crazed freeloader, won’t be loved by many. It’s that the attempts at jokes are so telegraphed and flat, and his success on television, where restraint is vital, simply doesn’t translate to the big screen.
While the smart and hilarious MacFarlane is winning in person, as shown in interviews and discussions, his comedic styling, one based on randomness, has become utterly predictable. It goes like this: a character with certain societal preconceptions, such as the serious and manly Mark Wahlberg, or a cute child’s Teddy Bear, uses those established ideas to say or do something to shock the audience, often in a funny voice or saying the word ‘fart.’
In Ted, we are expected to continuously be shocked by Wahlberg playing a man-child, or constantly laugh every time a stuff animal swears or drinks. Unfortunately though, nearly every joke is set up just seconds before the punch line, and shock value is substituted for cunning.
The premise is entirely hysterical, but beyond a trailer which startles and subverts (something MacFarlane has long triumphed at), there is not much more to a movie that is at least 15 minutes too long. John Bennett (Wahlberg) has been dating Lori (Mila Kunis) for four years, and she wants more; mainly for John to grow up, which means parting ways with Ted. None of that really matters, and none of that is actually serious as it is simply a vehicle for too many unfunny fart jokes.
It is not offensive because there are jokes made about 9/11, teddy bear sex, flatulence, or confusing Muslims and Indians—it is offensive because it simply isn’t clever. It’s particularly lazy to make jokes about Justin Bieber and Katy Perry, about Adam’s Sandler Jack and Jill, about tweeting while driving, and yet that’s what takes place.
There are genuinely funny moments, but unfortunately most of them involve human characters (Ted and John do have a hysterical back and forth guessing the name of a less-than-desirable young woman, but even that is more to the credit of Wahlberg’s acting than anything else). Joel McHale is an enjoyable scoundrel as Lori’s boss, and Giovanni Ribisi offers a fantastically sleazy performance as a father seeking Ted for his own kid, and there is one fantastic cameo to be sure, and a couple others that are solid.
MacFarlane’s comedy is much better suited to the half-hour sitcom rather than a 100-minute film, where he simply throws as much stuff to the wall and hope it sticks. The few genuinely funny jokes are unfortunately drowned out and silently killed by the giant, toxic cloud of gas left in the wake of Ted, a filth of a movie dropped on the ground of an apartment to fester, not unlike something foul left by one of Ted’s female escorts.