Monday, July 2, 2012


TED: Mark Wahlberg, Mila Kunis (115 min.)

I consider myself a fan of Seth McFarlane's Family Guy.  I get his humor, and I enjoy the animated series.  But I didn't get, nor did I enjoy, Ted.  This confuses me.  I expected to laugh hysterically throughout Ted, but after the opening scenes I found it very tough to force even a chuckle.  What did I miss?  I don't think I've missed anything, I just don't feel like any of the humor works at all.  It isn't particularly daring, it isn't edgy enough, and not once did I think "this is quotable."  I wonder what Mark Wahlberg saw in the screenplay, or what anyone thought about the plot which is as thin as they come.  I honestly went into Ted with high expectations, and found myself let down before the first reel even finished.

The film revolves around the relationship between a boy and his teddy bear.  John (Wahlberg) is the kid in the neighborhood who can never make friends.  He can't even beat up the Jewish kid in the neighborhood on Christmas.  John wants a friend, and this Christmas he gets a stuffed teddy bear who he names Teddy.  They are the closest of friends, and one night after a wish is granted Ted is granted the ability to speak and act like a human.  Ted and John remain firends despite the fame Ted gets from being the world's first talking bear.  He goes on Carson, he fights through drug issues, and he becomes a burnt out former celebrity "like Corey Feldman", as the narrator, Patrick Stewart, tells us.  Next thing you know, John and Ted are in their thirties and spend the day smoking pot and watching Spongebob Squarepants.

John is the definition of a manchild, stunted by a terrible job at a rental car agency and a teddy bear for a friend.  But somehow he has managed to nail down a hot girlfriend, Lori, played in a thankless role by Mila Kunis.  Surely, Kunis knew this role would bring nothing to her career  There is the thinnest semblance of a plot, involving a shady father (Giovanni Ribisi) who plans on stealing Ted for his own idiot son.  But the plot comes on so late and is so forgettable it feels forced.  Ted, voiced by McFarlane himself and sounding exactly like Peter Griffin from Family Guy, drinks and smokes pot and swears and has parties with hookers, but it never really works on the level it should work. 

Ted feels stale from start to finish.  There are various elements like a douchebag boss (Joel McHale) and a romantic conundrum, but it never matters an ounce.  I was hoping for the comedic elements of Family Guy to translate easily to live action, with a mix of CGI for the teddy bear.  Alas, it never happened.  I forced laughter in the first few scenes, and maybe they were funny.  But I soon found myself searching for the comedy like Indiana Jones, never finding the sweet spot that made the picture work.  Maybe I am out of touch, but I didn't find many things which worked in Ted.