Film of the Week: Ted
If I could have anyone’s brain for just 24 hours, it’d definitely be Seth MacFarlane’s. He’s brought us a talking dog, a goldfish with the brain of a German and now he brings us the star of the unashamedly politically incorrect Ted: a teddy bear, brought to life through a Christmas wish who grows up, along with its owner, into a pot-smoking, unemployed womaniser.
The plotline is a simple one – as a child John Bennett (Mark Wahlberg) wishes that his teddy bear could talk, and in true Disney-like fashion, it becomes true. Fast forward 25 years and that same bear, now a fallen-from-grace celebrity, is still John’s best friend, except now he is holding him back by encouraging him to get high and watch B movies all day. John’s girlfriend Lori (Mila Kunis) eventually gives him the ultimatum “it’s me or the bear” and, well… you can probably see where this is going.
So far, so Seth MacFarlane. In fact, if you’re expecting anything ground-breaking, this isn’t the film for you. The closest Ted gets to anything like intelligent cinema is its moments of self-reflexivity: at one point in the film, Ted (voiced by MacFarlane) exclaims “Hey! I don’t sound like Peter Griffin!”. The film is not scared to laugh at itself, while mocking the rest of Hollywood, with obvious parodies of all sorts of genres, from children’s film through to tear-jerking chick-flicks.
So if it’s not intelligent cinema and the plotline is, shall we say, a well-worn one, is Ted worthy of the hype? In a word, yes. It is incredibly funny. The humour will be familiar to any Family Guy fan, much of it stemming from the juxtaposition of a cuddly teddy bear and Ted’s lifestyle. Much like MacFarlane’s television work, the film doesn’t follow an evolving plot, rather it works as a series of vignettes, some of which are particularly tangential – a particular favourite being the spoof of the dancing scene from Airplane! (seriously, a parody of a parody? That’s meta).
The humour too is along the same lewd lines as Family Guy (ever wondered how a teddy might have sex? Wonder no more…) mixed with cultural references that we would expect from Seth MacFarlane, yet there is still more to this film than childish humour. Unlike an episode of Family Guy, we really grow attached to the characters – they are loveable and indeed, as much as we laugh at the few ‘tearjerker’ moments, they are simultaneously heart-warming. This is a story about a boy and his teddy bear. Although it’s no Toy Story, Ted reminds us that even when we’re adults, we don’t have to grow up.