Ted Review: Crude Humour Gets An Emotional Touch

Seth MacFarlane takes on yet another challenge with this hilarious, warm comedy about a stuffed bear that comes to life to be a child's best friend.

rating: 4

Seth MacFarlane takes on yet another challenge with this hilarious, warm comedy about a stuffed bear that comes to life to be a child's best friend. With MacFarlane's cartoon empire currently encompassing 3 different shows, it was only a matter of time before he took the leap into filmmaking, and despite the critical reception of Family Guy dipping slightly in recent years, Ted proves that when it comes to animated laughs, nobody does it like him. Ted is frequently hilarious, leaving no stone unturned when it comes to controversial jokes, but also provides enough intrigue and emotion to appeal to more than just fans of his TV shows. The film kicks off with a fantastical opening in which an eight year old child makes a wish that his brand new teddy bear will come to life. It's not all so cheesy though; MacFarlane regular Patrick Stewart narrates this part in a hilarious fashion that's become typical of the legendary actor from his voice acting in Family Guy and American Dad. The concept cuts away from the usual cliche's at this point, with Macfarlane refreshingly going down a realistic route, asking the question of what would actually happen if a bear came to life? Answer: He becomes a celebrity, mag covers and all, but things begin to turn sour, and we're shown images of Ted and John growing up and losing their cuteness as the opening credits roll. John, played perfectly by Mark Wahlberg, is a 35-year-old slacker working in a dead end job, while Ted (voiced by Macfarlane) is a sweary, rude and lazy stoner. It's an excellent set-up, giving us a post happy ending story and an original idea that, as well as being extremely funny, poses some interesting questions along the way. The main narrative of the film is the attempts of John to try and juggle his friendship with Ted, which he swore would last forever, and his 4-year girlfriend, Lori, played by Mila Kunis. While John can't resist the fun of spending the whole day on the couch with Ted, smoking bongs and watching Flash Gordon, Lori is desperate for him to get his life together, commit to the relationship and grow up. While this could have made for another annoying film girlfriend, Wahlberg and Kunis' chemistry is spot on, forcing the audience to consider what is more important, having fun or growing up. While the scenes between the couple are sweet, and Ted and John's friendship's up and down's do pull at the heartstrings, when Ted brings the funny, it doesn't shy away from it. MacFarlane is brilliant as Ted, utilising the kind of controversial, crude and outlandish humour that has made Family Guy so popular. Subjects such as rape and terrorism are casually joked about in a razor sharp fashion, while there's plenty of slapstick comedy to satisfy fans of humorous violence. The real star is Wahlberg though, who acts as a perfect foil for his loud mouth bear friend. Playing it straight as an innocent man-child, he once again show's his versatility, always likeable, consistently funny, and down-to-earth as he's pushed into adulthood by his well-meaning girlfriend. The supporting cast are also perfect, with Community's Joel McHale convincingly creepy as Lori's flirtatious boss, Giovanni Ribisi perfect as the twisted stalker who wishes Ted could be his best friend, and plenty of fantastic cameo's from stars such as Norah Jones, Ryan Reynolds and Sam Jones(Flash Gordon himself!) MacFarlane occasionally overindulges when it comes to referencing his TV shows, with several jokes picked right out of Family Guy and even a Peter Griffin reference thrown in for good measure. With such a high volume of jokes, not everything lands, but there's plenty of belly laughs to be had, as long as you're not easily offended. But the really impressive thing about Ted is how smoothly it slides from crude to caring, carrying just enough emotional weight to stick in your mind past bedtime. Ted is out now in cinemas. Follow me on Twitter @matt_volpi

A super-villain in a world without heroes. Dedicated writer on all things Liverpool FC, brutally honest about things he dislikes, overly passionate about things he cares about. Lover of Pop Punk music, The Office(US), San Andreas and novelty boxer shorts. Follow him on twitter @matt_volpi