Come Join The Party!
Come on now, let's be honest. How many of you out there have a soft toy companion that once upon a time you'd wish it could talk back, and interact. That robotic Teddy Ruxpin one doesn't count. If it came true, chances are you'd have Ted, brought to life by that little bit of magic you know can never happen in real life, but in reel life. Given to an unpopular boy by his parents as a gift for Christmas, he makes a wish that his new teddy bear can become more than just a plush toy, and so with a little Pinnochio styled miracle, the toy becomes Ted, voiced by Seth MacFarlane, who also wrote and directed this feature film, marking his live action debut after his work on his creation and popular stint on The Family Guy.
Cue opening credits and we see how the boy John Bennett, now all grown up to embody the physique of Mark Wahlberg, become the best of buddies with his teddy bear, which had once upon a time become an instant celebrity, and now all forgotten with all things that have come to past. We see that the "thunder buddies" - coined because both have a fear of thunder and would huddle together singing their thunder song - have grown up, and even Ted had his voice broken. And like any child, it's nurture that will bring out some personality, and in Ted's case, both he and John have each other to thank for being somewhat of a bummer, smoking weed and rewatching their favourite Flash Gordon film from their couch.
This of course draws the irk of John's girlfriend Lori (Mila Kunis), a corporate high flier who decided to draw some ultimatum for the boy to choose - his best buddy, or her. This is that story, since it's somewhat of a perennial problem in any relationship, when a girl decides that being long suffering isn't enough, especially when she has to get constantly ribbed by friends and colleagues who question her choice in companions, and worst, having the boss hit on her at every opportunity, just because nobody would believe that she would eventually decide to marry down. It's four years and counting for this two's a company, three's a crowd, and things are going ugly and down to the wire.
The best buddy would of course move away, and the narrative deals with adjustment, how we each have to peel away from the things that we like and the people we love, just because we had to make a choice for something taking higher priority. We all have the same number of hours, and it's up to us to determine how those hours get spent. In John and Ted's case, if given a choice, smoking weed and lazing around would just about be heaven on earth, if not for Lori's objection that had the back of the camel broken when Ted brought home four hookers one special night. And add to that the threat of a creepy stalker (Giovanni Ribisi) who so desires Ted that he wants him all for himself, and his son.
Seth MacFarlane has a winner here in creating something outside of his Family Guy series. I couldn't have enough of the trash/straight talking bear full of wit and life, that Ted just endears himself and makes you wish you have him as your own, as that faithful companion who can hang out with, and is constantly on the same wavelength. Brought to life by the use of CG, Ted is seamlessly delivered, and better yet, is able to get into a big fight should the scene calls for it. Mark Wahlberg didn't have too much to do playing the man child with that blank expression that the story required for the most parts, being oblivious to the needs of his girlfriend, and almost always jumping into opportunities to hang out with his best buddy, nevermind the consequences. The need to pull up one's socks in life, and to have a sense of responsibility, is John Bennett's story arc. Wahlberg's scene stealer though is the rattling off of thrashy female names, done without any visual cues or aid, and completely from memory, which is as funny as it is jaw dropping amazing.
It's a true geek's film, and MacFarlane's geekdom comes in full swing with the appearance of Flash Gordon aka Sam Jones in full garb no less, convincing the actor that he still had what it took, and to have the guts to don that cheesy costume to become a huge parody of himself and that iconic character who had shot him to fame. Look out for other recognizable cameos, with Patrick Stewart lending his baritone voice by being the narrator, and a surprise appearance by an actor whose actions in this film also helped contribute to that M18 rating the censors here had to slap on this film.
Ted makes you root for him throughout the entire film, and I sure as hell wouldn't mind someone to verbal spar with, or have a good time hanging out with. Definitely recommended, and one of the more consistent comedies from start to finish that's been screened this year.