I expected a lot more than what Ted brought to the table. Seth MacFarlane has a knack for pointing out the weaknesses in films and television shows and yet when it comes to creating a film of his very own he decides on the most cliche storytelling available to him. Sure, there are a few funny moments, some outrageous moments that made me laugh, but it couldn’t have been more than 30 minutes into this film that I was ready to leave.
Ted is the story of John, a young boy with no friends. So, one Christmas, he receives a teddy bear, which he names, naturally, Ted, of which he wishes would come to life and be his best friend. It does.
Instead of hiding this miracle, Ted is shared with the world. The first ever teddy bear come to life! He’s on the “Tonight Show” with Johnny Carson, in the tabloids and on the news. No one can explain it and no one tries to, but as the film’s narrator (Patrick Stewart) says, “Whether you’re Corey Feldman, Frankie Muniz or Justin Bieber, eventually nobody gives a shit.” I quite agree, like I said, 30 minutes and I was over it.
Flash forward and John (Mark Wahlberg) and Ted (voiced by MacFarlane) are all grown up. John is a car rental agent and has been dating Lori (Mila Kunis) for four years while Ted sits at home smoking weed and getting drunk. If Lori thought she would ever be involved in a threesome I doubt this is what she had in mind.
As things come to a head Lori drops down the ultimatum, it’s either her or Ted, this coming after the two return home from an anniversary dinner to find Ted sitting on the couch with a group of hookers, one of which has defecated in the corner of the room. Obviously, Ted gets the boot, but John can’t seem to keep away from his Flash Gordon-loving “thunder buddy”, a nickname the two came up with when they were young as a result of both being scared of thunder storms and still are to this day.
Obviously the fact John can’t seem to grow up and take some responsibility continues to get in the way of his relationship with Lori and things essentially play out as you’d expect, outside of the addition of a psycho Ted-stalker played by Giovanni Ribisi. I found very little of this to be funny.
The biggest hurdle the film failed to get over was in telling a story that wouldn’t get in the way of the comedy. For example, one scene involves Ted throwing a party at his new apartment where, by some twist of fate, Sam Jones (the original Flash Gordon from the 1980 film) shows up. Ted calls John, who is on shaky ground with Lori as is, and convinces him to bail on her boss’s party to come over to his party… just for 30 minutes.
By telling you this, you already know how it will play out. The party is downright outrageous up to, and including, a not-at-all-funny next door neighbor who comes over carrying the live duck he was about to prepare for dinner, ranting after Jones punches a hole in his wall. Long story short, all comedy is lost with the realization this whole sequence is merely a punchline to forward the relationship story so Lori can get mad at John and end the relationship and there will be something to “fix.”
I couldn’t look past this sappy, sorry, cliched relationship angle that was getting in the way of me having a good time. I realized all I was watching was a pair of idiots, one of which happened to be a teddy bear, going around doing stupid things inside a traditional rom-com with jokes elevated from the PG-13 level to R.
The only thing I can truly remember laughing at, and would again, were Ted’s job interview moments and most everything that had to do with him in the workplace. They were random and unexpected and what the film should have been about. Ted should have been about the bear and not a romantic comedy where the bear gets in the way of a relationship. Replace the word “bear” with “friend” and you have a countless number of terrible romantic comedies. It’s unimaginative and boring.
I’m sure some will say I’m glossing over the one big difference this film has with most others — It features a talking teddy bear! So, somehow it’s not the same? Sorry to say, Ted is still just a lazy, foul-mouthed friend that’s getting in the way of a relationship. Some of the jokes may be funny, but they are surrounded by this endless monotony of bad storytelling and canned music that feels like composer Walter Murphy was remaking a bad ’70s television show or only finished half of each song before laying them down.
The most ironic thing about Ted is how Seth MacFarlane pokes fun at Adam Sandler’s Jack and Jill, completely unaware his movie is just as bad as any of the PG-13, general audience junk Sandler makes. The only difference between Ted and those films is the comedy is far dirtier, but not necessarily funnier.