A lonely young boy is given a teddy bear for Christmas, as he goes to sleep he makes a wish that his teddy were real. When he wakes up in the morning, he and his shocked parents find that his wish has been granted.
We then flash forward to find the young boy all grown up, living with his teddy bear, smoking pot and generally sliding by, whilst watching such classic movie fare as Flash Gordon. Of course, everyone has to grow up sometimes – even if that means parting with ones teddy bear…
Ted is a film that I didn’t really expect to like because it’s a Seth McFarlane movie and I just don’t get Family Guy. I don’t hate Family Guy but I just don’t find it very funny. So it was a great surprise to me that I really enjoyed this film, Ted is a wonderful creation, though he does sound exactly like Peter Griffin, which was distracting for a while.
Ted himself is realised quite beautifully, the motion capture technique used is brilliant – I never would’ve believed that it could be done so well. Ted interacts seamlessly with the real actors and it’s probably the first time that I’ve seen a movie of this ilk where an animatronic creation would not have been the correct way to go. I’ve heard that Gremlins is to be re-made with CGI creations rather than puppets and if it’s done as well as Ted, then I think that it could be pulled off. This is something that I’d not have believed prior to watching this film.
Plot wise, the film is no great shakes and has been done a thousand times already. Slacker boy gets the girl, looses the girl, then redeems himself, wins her back and all is happy. There is another plot thread that sees Ted getting kidnapped by an obsessive fan, but it’s little more than padding.
That said, the film makers know how clichéd the plot is and focus on the characters, relying on their charm to pull the movie off. It works. As far as acting plaudits go, Whalberg is fine as the slacker that needs to grow up, Ted is brilliant and Milla Kunis is the perfect straight-woman to their antics.
Seth McFarlane is clearly a big geek and manages to get Sam Jones, from the 1980 Flash Gordon movie to appear in the film – in costume! It’s great, Sam Jones acquits himself well, he’s quite funny and the Flash Gordon film is not mercilessly ridiculed, but rather lovingly referenced.
Not only that; but the dulcet tones of Patrick Stewart are employed as narrator at the beginning and end of the movie. In fact, many of the funniest lines go to Patrick Stewart – such as:
Now if there’s one thing you can be sure of, it’s that nothing is more powerful than a young boy’s wish…..except an Apache helicopter. An Apache helicopter has machine guns AND missiles. It is an unbelievably impressive complement of weaponry, an absolute death machine.”
I expected lots of sick humour, but the film doesn’t go for the cheap gags. That said, the script could have done with a bit more polish as most of the jokes are sight gags (i.e. bear drives car, bear wants to have sex with women etc…).
As a Director, I thought that Seth McFarlane put in a competent job, not especially flashy and in some ways a bit old fashioned in the way he framed scenes. That’s not a criticism though, not everyone likes the Michael Bay style of constant camera moves. I did think that the film could have used a bit more colour though (or the reverse – grunged it up a bit more) as the tone of the movie was a little inconsistent.
How does Ted smoke pot and get high without lungs? How does Ted eat or get drunk? Not questions that really need answering according to my wife, but I think that they could have provided some comedy answers.
For what it is, the film is something of a triumph. It says a lot when the biggest criticism I have is that Mark Whalberg’s stoner/slacker character has massive biceps which is not in keeping with his character.
The film is aimed squarely at my generation (30+) who will have fond memories of a lot of old movies like Star Wars, Flash Gordon, Top Gun, Airplane etc… I think that it could have made more money if the creators had toned Ted down a bit and released the film as a more family friendly movie. That said, for me it’s the best comedy film I’ve seen in ages and I’m glad they didn’t opt to go for a safer route that might have led to a bigger box office.