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Ted - Cinemaholic Movie Reviews
one person's obsessive addiction to film
Directing: C+
Acting: B
Writing: C
Cinematography: B
Editing: C+

I'm not convinced Seth MacFarlane is cut out for feature filmmaking. His shtick fits quite well into 30-minute bursts of TV, and Ted could have been whittled down to a rather entertaining 30 minutes. But who wants to pay movie theatre prices for 30 minutes of quality material? Unfortunately, that's what I just did. But I did it so you don't have to! I have an inherent nobility like that.

Ted adds another hour and 16 minutes of nothing special onto that 30 minutes of workable material, and most of it goes nowhere sensible. I didn't go into this movie expecting brilliance, but I did go into it expecting to laugh. The premise is funny enough: a little boy's Christmas wish turns his Teddy bear into a real live personality, who promises to be his best friend for life. They both grow up into embodiments of arrested development. And yes, it's a kick to see a Teddy bear smoking marijuana. Well, the first time, anyway. A lot of this movie gets tired very fast.

Mark Wahlberg plays the little boy as a grown-up, 35-year-old John Bennett, and MacFarlane himself plays the impressively CGI-rendered Ted with an adult voice but a truly adolescent point of view -- which, naturally, rubs off on John. They both speak with almost annoyingly overdone Boston accents.

There is a curious twist to this story. Usually a story like this involves a talking inanimate object that only one person can communicate with, and most of the time there is the possibility that the object being alive is actually just the figment of someone's imagination. Not so in this case: Ted becomes famous; he even gets a guest-spot on The Tonight Show with Johnny Carson in the requisite montage. The punch line is delivered by voice-over narration just before the opening titles: no matter who you are or how famous you get, sooner or later no one gives a shit. Thus, when Ted eventually has to move out of John's apartment, he gets a job at a grocery store. Where he fucks another cashier on a pile of produce. Without a penis (something he specifically mentions at one point). Someone explain this to me.

Somehow, even with Ted hanging around, John is in a four-year relationship with Lori, played by Mila Kunis. This woman is presented as perfectly normal, someone who is charmed by John in spite of his infantile lifestyle and who tolerates Ted. This woman could not possibly be normal.

Lori is the one who finally puts her foot down: ask the bear to move out so they can get on with their lives. Of course this causes problems between Ted and John, and then between John and Lori, and then there's a relatively funny guest spot by Sam Jones, playing himself, star of Flash Gordon, the movie John and Ted grew up obsessing over. Jones gives them cocaine. Seeing cocaine powder on a Teddy bear's nose is kind of funny. The cocaine-snorting baby in A Very Harold & Kumar 3D Christmas was funnier.

And that's just the thing: Ted is a long string of missed opportunities. I mean, sure, it's fun to see Mark Wahlberg get into a fistfight with a Teddy bear (and seeing a Teddy bear whip his bear ass with an antenna is not something you see every day). But the fun -- and the laughs -- are sporadic at best. The script, written by MacFarlane, seems beat by beat to have taken its cue from the Hollywood formula playbook. It takes mystifying turns: there's a completely unnecessary subplot involving a guy who wants to kidnap Ted for his own son.

And here is the fatal flaw: Ted has sincere sentimentality to it -- a byproduct of the undercurrent of wholesomeness that makes no sense whatsoever, given the nature of the humor trying so hard to be over-the-top. If you want to be edgy, you need to stick to the edge. MacFarlane has one foot propped on the edge while the rest of him is resting in a recliner. That's what keeps this movie from working: it aims for being over the top, but it can't commit.

You'd never expect that from the likes of Seth MacFarlane, but there it is. His delivery as the voice of Ted is about as good as one could expect; ditto essentially any of the other players here (including Joel McHale as Lori's boss; and Giovanni Ribisi as the kidnapper, really committing to that otherwise pointless part). But the story itself just doesn't deliver.

You go to a movie like Ted expecting to laugh your ass off. If you leave having just laughed a few times, it feels a little like a broken promise, doesn't it?

Seth MacFarlane and Mark Wahlberg don't quite go far enough off the rails in TED.

Overall: C+
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