Ted

Up till now the summer movie season has been utterly devoid of any good comedies. I mean I don’t actually know anyone who saw That’s My Boy and The Dictator seemed to fade as quickly as it appeared. But now we have Ted, the first live action film from writer and director Seth MacFarlane; and I must say fellow nerds, the man behind Family Guy and American Dad delivers!

I mean who didn't see Marky Mark ending up here?

Ted begins with an extended prologue, narrated by Starfleet’s own Sir Patrick Stewart, that explains the titular teddy bear’s magical origin. After little John Bennett (played as an adult by Mark Wahlberg) wishes for a friend on Christmas, his wish is granted in the form of a walking, talking teddy bear named Ted (voiced by Seth MacFarlane). The issue of how the world deals with a fantastical stuffed toy is also briefly addressed through obligatory news reports and an appearance on The Tonight Show with Johnny Carson.

Fast forward 25 years or so and though Ted is no longer a celebrity, John and Ted are still best friends, living together with John’s girlfriend of four years Lori (Mila Kunis). It’s here that we’re introduced to the main thrust of the story which is John having to basically choose between the love of his life and his magical BFF. In other words it’s a movie about a man having to choose between growing up and remaining a child. Nothing we haven’t seen before; but it is handled ably by first time feature-helmer MacFarlane.

There is another subplot as well involving a creepy dad (Giovanni Ribisi) and his son (Aedin Mincks) who try to steal Ted away for themselves. This results in some weird and funny hi-jinks as well as the dramatic climax of the film.

As I just said, Seth MacFarlane’s directorial debut is solid. He creates a charming and whimsical tone that is laced with his signature raunchy comedic sensibilities; a lot like a Family Guy episode. Not surprising really but it’s a good thing.

The movie does not skimp on the R-rated humor that you can tell MacFarlane always wished he could do on Family guy. There aren’t as many of the trademark flashbacks and cutaways but they are there. The plot is also very simple like a lot of Family Guy episodes but it works as a skeleton MacFarlane and company can graft their jokes and funny scenes onto.

Speaking of company, Family Guy vets Alec Sulkin and Wellesley Wild helped MacFarlane write the rude, crass, and hilarious script. It’s fairly evident that they’re having fun with the ability to go all the way to an R-rating after being restricted on TV for so long. Some people may not enjoy the raunchier jokes, but I’m guessing the above 40 set isn’t going to rush out and see this movie.

The CGI that brings Ted to life is brilliant as well. He’s expressive enough to almost make you forget that you’re just watching an animated teddy bear and not a real life character. But it’s MacFarlane’s performance and charm that give Ted his irreverent and loveable personality and make Ted become more than just a high-concept idea.

The other cast members are great as well. Wahlberg and Kunis definitely have chemistry which is important if we’re to believe she’s willing to deal with his and Ted’s shenanigans and not leave him the first time he messes up. They also have some nice dramatic scenes together where both of them can display some acting chops.

Rounding out the cast are Patrick Warburton, John’s coworker, Joel McHale, Lori’s ass of a boss, Matt Walsh, John’s boss, and Jessica Barth, Ted’s trashy girlfriend.. There are also several awesome cameos from people like Norah Jones and Tom Skerritt. The other two big ones I will not ruin because of their awesomeness.

It has certainly been a tough summer for comedy so far. Thankfully Ted is a consistently funny film that does not let its high concept idea get in the way of delivering a great comedy. I can’t wait to see what MacFarlane does next. 4 out of 5 stars.