Boundary-pushing “Family Guy” creator Seth MacFarlane’s first feature film will make you laugh, feel guilty for laughing at some of the off-color jokes, and maybe, just maybe, even shed a tear or two.
The movie, narrated by the legendary Patrick Stewart (“Star Trek,” “X-Men”), begins innocently enough with outcast 8-year-old John Bennett receiving a plush, stuffed teddy bear for Christmas. One night he wishes for his bear to come alive so that they can be best friends forever.
Magically, the next morning he discovers a talking, sentient Ted (voiced by MacFarlane). The rest, as they say, is history. In this case, it’s a photo montage of the best friends riding go-karts, squeezing their first pimples, and standing in line for a “Star Wars” movie decked out in costumes. (Ted looks adorable dressed up as Yoda).
Fast-forward 27 years to present-day Boston, where the now grown-up John is living with girlfriend Lori (Mila Kunis) and Ted in Lori’s apartment. John is a low-paid rent-a-car employee who is stuck in a permanent state of adolescence as a result of living with his stuffed childhood friend.
Lori, meanwhile, becomes increasingly irritated by Ted’s bad influence on John and forces him to kick Ted out.
Some of the funniest moments take place when Ted gets a job and a human girlfriend. There’s just something both freakishly wrong and hilariously funny about a wise-cracking, irreverent character in the form of a cuddly fuzzy teddy bear.
MacFarlane and his fellow writers pack in an obscene amount of jokes throughout, without getting in the way of the main storyline about a guy struggling to grow up and having to choose between his closest companions.
The CG animation was among the best I’ve seen—to the point where you almost forget that Ted isn’t really alive. In fact, according to production notes, one of the reasons why MacFarlane waited as long as he did to make this movie was because he was waiting for the CG technology to improve to where it is today. Not only did MacFarlane voice Ted while he was directing, but he also wore a motion-capture suit to perform Ted’s dialogue and movements, ultimately enabling Ted to blend in seamlessly with the other characters and the set.
Mark Wahlberg proves that he can do comedy just as well if not better than his more serious roles. His deadpan, slightly dazed yet sweet demeanor is a perfect antidote for Ted’s abrasive, opinionated character.
Mila Kunis plays Lori to perfection—she’s gorgeous, fun, sweet, and patient. Even when she demands that John kick Ted out, the audience is empathetic and doesn’t see her as the villain.
Rounding out the cast are “Family Guy” regulars Patrick Warburton and Alex Borstein playing Lori’s persistent, egocentric boss and young John’s mom, respectively. Giovanni Ribisi also lends his talents to this project, playing a creepy teddy bear stalker. And, there are a few surprise cameos that I won’t reveal—you’ll just have to see it when “Ted” comes out on June 29.
“Ted” is what happens when “Care Bears” meets “The Hangover”—it’s a hilarious, gut-splitting adventure, but one that also has a squishy, heartfelt, gummy bear core.
Director: Seth MacFarlane
Cast: Mark Wahlberg, Mila Kunis, Seth MacFarlane
Running Time: 106 minutes
Rating: R for crude and sexual content, pervasive language, and some drug use
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