Friday, 10 August 2012

TED review

From the creator of Family Guy comes Ted, the story of one man and his vulgar, womanising teddy bear.



When John Bennett, a lonely young boy without any friends, receives a teddy bear on Christmas morning, he makes a wish to be best friends with him forever, inadvertently giving him the gift of life. 27 years later, John (Mark Wahlberg) and Ted (Seth MacFarlane) are still best friends who enjoy to layabout and smoke pot together, something which is starting to impact John's relationship with his girlfriend, Lori (Mila Kunis).

First things first; if you're a fan of Family Guy, chances are you will like this film. However, if you find its special brand of humour distasteful and a bit too near the knuckle, you will DEFINITELY not like this film. Not softening his approach at all for his big screen debut, Family Guy creator (serving as director and the voice of Ted) Seth MacFarlane continues his remit of 'offend everyone so no-one can complain', most often dispensing the insults via his fouled mouthed CGI creation, Ted.

Sticking with the one man and his dog formula he's always used as the basis of his TV shows, (whether it's Steve in Larry and Steve, Stan Smith and Roger the Alien in American Dad or Peter Griffin and Brian the Dog in Family Guy), at times it's like a live action Family Guy episode. Watching one of Wahlberg's farts drift across a restaurant and hit some diners could easily have been an animated skit from the show, and a hotel room brawl has all the kinetic ultra-violence of the notorious Chicken fights.

On the buddy comedy side of things, Ted's gift of sentience is the result of John's childhood wish to have him as his best friend forever; but unlike Family Guy's lack of explanation about Brian's ability to talk, Ted lives in society as a faded celebrity and former talk show guest because, as Patrick Stewart's narrator puts it in the opening scene, "sooner or later, no one gives a shit".

For a man who's worked exclusively in animation, MacFarlane has built up quite a reperatory company of actors, many of whom appear here in cameos. Along with Alex (Lois Griffin) Borstein as John's mother, Patrick (Joe Swanson) Warburton as John's sexually confused co-worker (I won't spoil the surprise cameo of his lover) there's the lovely, lovely Mila Kunis, usually the butt of jokes as Meg Griffin. Pretty much the only person not present from the Family Guy crew is Seth Green, but if there's ever a sequel (which there almost certainly will be) I'm sure he'll feature in some way.

Continuing the trend of picking over pop culture and bringing it to a new generation, being given the Conway Twitty treatment here is Sam J. Jones, better known as Flash Gordon from the 1980 film of the same name. In an extended cameo that does little for the reputation of the Flash Gordon film but will now allow people to name TWO films that Sam Jones has been in, it's a fun but completely random piece of casting.


Despite his prominence, Jones isn't the greatest member of the supporting cast, with Joel McHale and Giovanni Ribisi both shining in small roles. Appearing as Mila Kunis' sleazy boss, McHale is hilarious as a patronising ("this is art, geddit?") douchebag with designs on Lori. Ribisi, as Donny, an obsessive fan of Ted, is possibly the most terrifying on-screen sociopath since Silence of the Lambs' Jame Gumb. Watching him do his little dance in his front room is very disturbing, and the film could have benefitted from featuring him more.

But this is Ted's film, his 'Dirty Fozzie' supermarket routine just the start of his debauchery, whether it's taking hits from the bong or allowing hookers to shit on John's floor. He's a completely convincing CGI character, his cute face disarming against MacFarlane's filthy mouth. The voice may be a bit too close to Family Guy, but Ted is a comic creation in his own right.

Part buddy comedy and part romantic comedy, as if he didn't have enough of a stranglehold on comedy with his TV shows, it looks like Seth MacFarlane has made the leap to the big screen with ease. A veritable smorgasbord of guilty laughs with a great cast and a lot of heart, Ted is the comedy to see this summer.

Verdict


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