by Jeffrey Lyles
If Seth MacFarlane’s particular brand of potty-humor still has you doubled over in laughing fits every Sunday night, you’re gonna love Ted.
Like a child desperately clinging to their security blanket or a favorite toy, MacFarlane doesn’t deviate much from the formula that’s made his cartoon show Family Guy so popular. From the familiar themes, MacFarlane’s first foray into live-action films could easily have been a live-action episode of Family Guy — minus the homicidal evil genius baby.
Patrick Stewart narrates our tale of how one boy’s innocent wish completely changes his life. One year, the friendless John receives a teddy bear that he wishes would come to life and magically, his wish is granted.
MacFarlane and fellow Family Guy writers Alec Sulkin and Wellesley Wild take the more interesting approach of Teddy being alive to everyone. This leads to Teddy becoming a celebrity, but through all the fame and notoriety, he remains best friends with John.
Fast forward and John is all grown up (played by Mark Wahlberg). He’s at a dead-end, but stable job; in a long-term relationship with Lori, (Mila Kunis) a wonderful woman and he’s still getting drunk and partying with Ted. After one too many screw-ups, Lori gives John an ultimatum — either he chooses Ted or her.
Kunis has a lot of screen time but doesn’t get many scenes to do more than just being the straight woman to Ted and John. Wahlberg has been typecast as just a tough guy, but he’s starting to reveal another level in showcasing his comedic talents. Even when the film gets chaotic with silly situations and awkward attempts at comedy, Wahlberg consistently holds up his end and keeps Ted from becoming too desperate to be funny.
What’s most frustrating about MacFarlane is he shows enough comedic brilliance that it’s obviously not a fluke. You can’t watch Ted and not have at least five uncontrollable fits of laughter, tearing up and struggling to catch your breath moments. But far too often, he goes for the cheapest, crudest, easiest joke to do that does his talent a disservice. Much like John, I keep waiting for MacFarlane to grow up some to really exploit his full talent and leave the easy potty-humor to less creative folks. If you don’t take it seriously, Ted is hilarious at times, obnoxious too many times and occasionally just stupid. It’s an extended episode of Family Guy, so don’t go in expecting anything more and you just might enjoy it.