When the animated comedy titan behind Family Guy, American Dad and The Cleveland Show, Seth McFarlane, temporarily traded in the pencil and microphone for a director’s chair you immediately start asking “does the characteristic comedy of digressions translate to the live action space?” Well when you find out that McFarlane’s fashioned a story centred on John (Mark Wahlberg) who lives with his teddy bear Ted (voiced by McFarlane) who came to life as the result of a childhood wish – you immediately feel in familiar fun albeit ridiculous territory.
McFarlane’s directorial debut showcases a very practical formal style that let’s the comedy speak for the scenes. The aesthetic is governed by the jokes. His uniquity shines in a plethora of references, nods to film texts that have influenced his life (either with sounds cues or mirroring shots) and capturing the leafy surrounds and brown-brick beauty of his home town Boston.
McFarlane, Sulkin and Wild use a flimsy plot line does just enough to structure and pace a compilation of great skits between John (Wahlberg) and Ted, establishing their friendship in their early life and transitioning to their lazy, weed smoking, Flash Gordon watching stoners life and the eccentrics that cohabitate his life.
Ted is disarmingly cute making his repeatedly inappropriate and vulgar humour sting throughout. McFarlane uses Ted perfectly to load him with character tropes of toys, former child actors, B grade celebrities and finally a perennially unemployed Bear trying to break back into the job market.
Mark Wahlberg shines in his native Boston dialect and sells an amazingly organic and reactive performance considering for a majority of the production he was occupying the screen with green screen or an inanimate version of his co-star. Mila Kunis is decent, but I couldn’t help but yearning for a “Shut up Meg” from the lips of the Peter Griffin sounding Ted. The plethora of unexpected cameos and one scene performers are excellent at returning the slew of inappropriate serves from the vulgar bear and his owner.
If you love Family Guy and worship at the alter of McFarlane you will absolutely adore Ted. It’s ridiculous, inappropriate, hilarious, nostalgic, geek heroin.
Co-Written and Directed by: Seth MacFarlane
Co-Written by: Alec Sulkin (screenplay), Wellesey Wild (screenplay)
Starring: Mark Wahlberg, Giovanni Ribisi, Mila Kunis and Seth MacFarlane (voicing Ted)
Ted is released in Australia on the 5th July 2012, the 29th June 2012 in the U.S.A and on the 1st August 2012.