Written by Lee Clifford
So there have been a few pretty funny movies this year, some that have had clean, family-friendly humour, some that have been juvenile humour that appeals to the lowest common denominator, but Ted is in a field all it’s own… and I only say that because I’m having trouble accepting that, for about two hours in a packed, boiling hot movie theatre, I was the lowest common denominator and loved it.
Ted is exactly what one should expect from Seth MacFarlane, the creative mind behind Family Guy; crass, remorseless and downright merciless in its comedic style, Ted will leave you laughing… most of the time for all the wrong reasons but sometimes it just feels good to laugh at the things those of us don’t have the nerve to say.
Anyone who has seen a trailer for this movie knows the main premise: John, a lonely child, wishes for his teddy bear to come alive so that he will always have a friend, and the wish is granted. Leaving it there makes it sound like the beginning of a warm and fuzzy Disney film, but the world’s reaction to a living, talking teddy bear instantly crosses a lot of lines, and pair that up with the eloquent potty mouth of Patrick Stewart, the only voice alive that can make the most disgusting of profanity sound like thespian genious, and the comedic gold rolls off the line right from the start.
A series of subplots fills the movie, John has tensions with his girlfriend, Ted eventually has to move out and find work, and a very, VERY creepy father and son pairing want Ted for themselves, but all of these smaller plots add comedic atmosphere for the true story: two friends going through changes in their life and learning how to cope with the bumps in the road of life. I mean it, seriously, beneath the sex jokes and lines that had people in the audience saying “oh my God did he just say that?” there’s actually a pretty touching story about the strengths and strains of friendship.
Leave it to me to find deeper meaning in a movie about a pot-smoking teddy bear that makes vagina jokes.
I know this is going to seem weird to say about a movie about a talking teddy bear, but the characters are very well written into very relatable personalities. Yes many of them are caricatures and lay on their quirks pretty thick, but every character leaves you thinking “I know someone like that”.
John and Lori, the story’s main focal couple, play it pretty straight, rarely hamming up their character flaws that would make them unentertaining. John’s a loser with a heart of gold who needs to get his act together, that’s it, no awkward or uncomfortable undertones, just a guy who’s down on his luck and needs to grow up. Lori is an anal-retentive nag but is that way because she wants to move on to the next step of her life with John; they’re relatable personalities, with the exception of a few select moments when they let themselves go a little further than normal, but ultimately their interactions played out like any legitimate chick flick, which is a brilliant contrast to the sheer oddity of the people in the world around them.
Ted, obviously, steals the show with his antics and personality. He can get away with saying and doing things the average person couldn’t simply because he’s a teddy bear. His insults are hilariously ruthless and the no-punches-pulled social commentary is pure MacFarlane to the core.
Not a lot to say about the music of this movie, as I don’t remember more than a handful of songs from the soundtrack, but the voice acting and foley work were both excellently done.
The sound effects from every scene were spot on and, again, put this unreal situation into a believable presentation.
The voice acting is very strong and perfectly compliments the movie’s visual humour. Every line, from straight deliveries to uncomfortably creepy mutterings, is said just right with the emphasis hitting the right spot every time; oftentimes the subtle rebuttals to a weird or funny line would be lost in the roars of laughter from the audience, so I’m going to want to see this movie again and try to catch the more coolly delivered lines.
It’s a movie about a CGI bear in the real world, and Ted looks very believable, the textures and worn spots are handled lovingly and, for the most part, Ted looks authentic; yes there will always be some scenes where CGI will look CGI, it can’t be helped, but those scenes were pretty few and far between.
What I Liked
I love that seemingly all the heavy hitters of the current Family Guy cast made an appearance in some capacity or another, and small cameos added a really fun element to the film.
The comedy is great, but also executed smartly. When a joke’s payoff has hit, the writing doesn’t just end there as the scene continues to build on that joke, or quickly move on to the next one. The jokes never felt like they overstayed their welcome and, unlike so many recent comedies, I never found myself thinking “okay… I get it…”
The odd combination of raunchy comedy with romantic comedy. At any moment this could have gone off the rails and fallen into Adam Sandler/Will Ferrel caliber stupidity and become just another example of comedic opportunities lost, but the bizarre pairing of over the top supporting characters with main characters who play it pretty straight just worked in this movie.
What I Would Change
A few of the jokes pushed a couple limits a bit too far, even for me. I love comedy that pushes the envelope and dares to say what most of us wouldn’t, but a few jokes, mainly one where Ted implies everyone of Eastern descent was somehow involved in 9-11, made me half-grimace and think “ooh, little offside there.”
This movie made me laugh my ass off, but the smart writing wasn’t restricted only to jokes. The romantic elements played out very nicely, the conflict and resolutions between friends could have been placed in almost any movie of that theme, only better, and the over the top moments were in your face but didn’t make you feel like you were watching a dead horse getting whipped.
All in all, I haven’t laughed so hard at a movie since Scott Pilgrim, and this one will be getting added to my bluray collection, no argument.
Thunder buddies for life.