When you take a twisted premise such as a grown-up, talking teddy bear and his 35 year old ‘thunder buddy’ its hard to not drag a knowing smirk into the theater when you sit down. And so I brought my expectations with me. The total surprise is not that they were met, but they were exceeded.
This could have started out bad just getting into the theater on a post storm Saturday with 1.2 million people without power trying to go anywhere to beat the heat and in my case all of them to the local mall. When it didn’t look like we would make this, a word at customer service with manager Luthor at the AMC box got me and my companion in our seats in time for the show and a shout out because he didn’t have to give a shit but did!
So, on to Ted. As is the case with these sorts of Christmas miracle beginnings the sugar shock from the get go could rot teeth. When Ted does come to life, you are reminded this is a comedy when he introduces Ted to the parents and they act like its an alien xenomorph. Let the laughs commence. Of course, with the requisite fame and Carson spot we segue into current times with a smart-assed, foul mouthed, bong smoking Ted and a shiftless but likeable John played well and with some heart by Mark Wahlberg. Are the gags there just like the trailers, absolutely and more. It’s the ‘more’ that takes this project from a one trick dirty pony to something more likable than just crude rude and crass.
Lets talk about the humor for a second. Is it like a Family guy episode? In passing, yes. But I find it to be more, in an almost sublime yet ludicrous sort of way. There is the initial come to life shock of some nasty shit spewing from a classically adorable two foot bear. Couple this to that great MacFarlane conversational insanity and you got gags-a-plenty! I mean the bust out loud guffaw with the afterglow chuckles. I saw this with a packed house and I wasn’t the only one in the audience still laughing about the last gag, a scene or two further into the movie. To give you some perspective I haven’t laughed like this in the theater since the legendary There’s Something About Mary, or even Monsters vs. Aliens.
Now, if that was all this offered it could slide by as entertaining as hell, funny summer fare. But, when you add in a smoking hot Mila Kunis that loves John despite his crazy, diminutive side kick and enough to be in a four year relationship, despite all his faults, the potential for some heart arises. Her angst as the long term girlfriend to a wishy-washy boyfriend brings about some tension. When after one chance too many, the break comes, it is surprisingly heartfelt and as the film moves into an action transition with a extremely creepy Giovanni Ribisi wanting Ted for his very own, the climax has some real emotion. Of course with the Hollywood dictate to end with something warm and fuzzy (pun intended) and a final gag that is good natured MacFarlane at his best, this movie comes off as a winner.
Why give it such high praise when many don’t? The clincher for me is somewhere in the last third of the movie especially during the action set pieces, I stopped thinking of Ted as a talking teddy and viewed him as living and breathing character, with all the absurdity aside! Add to that the great work by Wahlberg and Kunis, and how this is very easily the funniest movie of the year, at least in my book and so what’s not to like?
Ted, you might be a crass, foul-mouthed pervert but I like you anyway!