Dir: Seth MacFarlane
With: Mark Wahlberg, Mila Kunis, Seth MacFarlane
Running time: 106 minutes
FOR large parts of this comedy about a man and his walking, talking, dope-smoking, cursing, fornicating teddy bear, your reviewer was doing a passable impersonation of a stuffed catfish, mouth agape with horror. But when not aghast I was delighting in Seth MacFarlane, creator of Family Guy, doing what he does best – making comedies that can reach both the heights of bad taste and hilarity.
Despite the cuddly bear this is not, repeat not, a film for all the family. Check out that 15 certificate for a start. See Ted's behaviour for the rest. If Big Ted and Little Ted from Play School are at one end of the spectrum of good, Ted is far, far away at the other end. This is no ordinary bear, it's an Asbo bear.
The stuffed toy, we learn in a twinkly preamble, came to life when young John, a boy from Boston, wished upon a Christmas star. As far as wholesome whimsy goes, that's your lot. Ted grows up with John, mirroring his style and attitudes, so that by the time John (now played by Mark Wahlberg) is a beer-chugging slacker, Ted has become one too.
John, though, also has a girlfriend (Mila Kunis), who begins to wonder if her life wouldn't be better if there were not three of them in the relationship. So begins the delicate process for John and Ted (voiced by MacFarlane) of growing up and growing apart from each other.
MacFarlane, with his first film, makes some of the obvious mistakes of a newcomer, allowing scenes to run on far too long and putting too many elements into the mix. If you ever wondered what a rom-com-action-thriller-farce looked liked, wonder no longer: it's sprawling, messy and just as confusing as you might imagine.
MacFarlane doesn't know when to stop or where to draw the line. If that goes against him when it comes to keeping the story on track, it works a treat when applied to the comedy. His love of excess won't be to everyone's taste. If you are not offended by one gag, stick around; there will be another along in a second.
Wahlberg, as he showed most recently in The Other Guys with Will Ferrell, is a hoot and a half in comedies. When it comes to vaguely hysterical average Joes, no-one can touch the straight-faced Mr W. Here, his character is desperately trying to be the grown-up his girlfriend wants him to be, all the while trying to hold onto his childhood best friend.
Though the bond between bear and man is close, Kunis manages to exert her presence. Never knowingly a shrinking violet in any of her movies, she is just gutsy enough as the girlfriend man enough to take on Ted.
When he is not offending for America, MacFarlane calls on a few special guest stars to provide laughs. He isn't just a hard-nosed, fast and furious gagster, though. He shows here, as he does in Family Guy, that he can do the sweet and mushy stuff too when required.
All in, a very naughty film, and one to watch with a bear rather than mother.