Posted by Nicholas Rapp on July 3, 2012 at 12:42 am
“Ted” came out with a bang. Seth MacFarlane’s first real attempt at cinema faired surprisingly well in the box office, and the talking teddy bear wasn’t without competition. There was “Magic Mike” – a Soderbergh film where Channing Tatum plays a stripper –, “People Like Us” – a drama with Chris Pine and Elizabeth Banks –, and “Take This Waltz” – another drama with famous people (Michelle Williams, Seth Rogen). And “Ted” bested every one of them, raking in $54.1 million its opening weekend. For an R rated comedy, this is third only to “The Hangover Part II,” and “Sex and the City,” and both of those movies were a continuation upon an already fruitful story. “Ted” had the highest grossing debut for an original R rated movie… ever. I bought a ticket. So was it worth it?
Hey, I laughed! Going in, the biggest problem that I thought I would have with the film was the credibility of the world. How will anyone believe this story – a teddy bear walks around and passers-by don’t freak out? The introductory scenes where John Bennett (Mark Wahlberg) is a child are instrumental in grounding the world to reality. So… when Ted first came to life – yeah – everyone went wild. John Bennett’s parents were shaking with fearful excitement, and the talking stuffed animal appeared on every talk – television program, his fuzzy face appearing on every tabloid. He was world famous, but the wish was that the bear be brought to life in order to be John Bennett’s best friend, so of course fame didn’t go to Ted’s head. But the movie wasn’t about a small child and his talking teddy bear; it was about a thirty-five year old man and his talking teddy bear. So how does Seth MacFarlane rid the film’s world of star-struck masses wherever Ted goes, and make the movie about two common-folk buddies? This line: “No matter how big a splash you make in this world, whether you are Corey Feldman, Frankie Muniz, Justin Bieber or a talking teddy bear, eventually, nobody gives a shit.” Absolutely! After all, the plot takes place a whole twenty-five years after Ted was a star. This is Seth MacFarlane’s brilliant satire on “celebrity-status,” and from him I buy it. I believe he has kept his face off the screen for a reason, he chooses to play cartoon characters when he could write for himself real people easily – he doesn’t want to be a celebrity.
Mark Wahlberg had phenomenal chemistry with Seth MacFarlane. What they did was outstanding, especially being that Mark was talking to nothing save for an area soon to be taken up by a CGI rendered teddy bear. Whenever they spoke to each other it was evident they were best friends. MacFarlane was so crude, but Wahlberg could keep up. Mila Kunis, who played John Bennett’s girlfriend of four years, was also tremendous. She’s simply a good actress. The difference between Kunis, and MacFarlane + Wahlberg was where they shined. Though Ted and John Bennett shared some of the “funniest” dialogue film has offered this year, they only shined out of context from the story. Ted’s opinions on what Michelob puts in their beer these days had nothing to do with the plot. Being that without Mila Kunis there would be no plot – John has to choose between his teddy bear, or growing up and being with only his girlfriend – it is safe to say that Mila Kunis did a great job IN context.
When I see a comedy, I expect to laugh in accordance with the plot. When out quail hunting, Vince Vaughn got shot in his butt by Bradley Cooper (in “Wedding Crashers”), and I laughed because Cooper was aiming for him and Owen Wilson out of spite which was built into the plot. I laughed at an action – something that happened. And I laughed at dialogue too, but it was always regarding a traumatic event that had just happened. If you’re looking for actions to make you laugh, and not just witty banter, don’t see “Ted.” And in my opinion, you should want nothing less than actions to drive the laughter out of your rib cage. Throughout the film I felt constantly like I was laughing because I was supposed to, but not because I had any real reaction or care to what was going on. MacFarlane is so smart. He knows what sells, and he knows what’s easy. Farts, hookers, breasts, pot-humor, and topically making fun of everyone who is famous. As a society we know all of these things have the potential to spring forth laughter, and if in the right mood we can all let ourselves go a little and laugh like an eleven year old. But when seeing “Ted,” expect to see actual eleven year olds laughing at every one of these jokes, and then laughing at inopportune moments as well.
All in all, I didn’t feel like “Ted” was a complete movie. I’m big on plot, and though the dialog and the chemistry were fantastic, the story didn’t fill me up. I left the theater talking to my friend about the Batman poster that I saw on the way out. But the film is important. It is the first of its kind – an R rated movie about a talking teddy bear, and MacFarlane’s first attempt at film – and for that I went to the theater. I didn’t go looking for a “good” movie, and so I got what I went for. If you’re going to support the creator of “Family Guy,” and the emperor of topical humor, go pay your dues. If you’re looking to laugh, you will laugh just as well having rented the movie from Red Box.