Say what you will about his style of comedy, the success of Seth MacFarlane isn’t really a subject for debate. With three successful television shows to his name, MacFarlane’s latest project, Ted, creates intrigue for fans and critics, causing them to wonder if venturing into feature-length films is a smart move. Ted shows he’s trying an original idea instead of recycling existing characters and making “Family Guy the Movie.” While his brand of comedy may work for television, is it something that can carry a two-hour feature?
The film stars Mark Wahlberg as John, a child who wished that his teddy bear, Ted, voiced by MacFarlane, was alive. That wish comes true and the two grow up together, leading to the main story of John’s relationship troubles with his girlfriend, played by Mila Kunis.
It’s one of those stories that you’ve heard many times: the guy is in love with the girl and has to chose between loyalty to the girl or his best friend. However, this film is then layered with several references to popular culture – particularly the 80’s – a common aspect to MacFarlane’s work. The film does have it’s moments, and is at it’s core a sweet story. Unfortunately, there are times where the amount of cultural references layered throughout the film just cause it to slow down unnecessarily, particularly because the plot itself is fairly predictable.
Two major parts of the film that both worked and didn’t work can be attributed to MacFarlane’s style of comedy. First is the character of Ted. Granted, a living teddy bear doesn’t stay happy and innocent for long, but the frequent off-color expressions get old after a while. There are some funny parts, but there are times where you just want to say “We get it! He’s an a-hole! Just make your jokes and get on with it!”
The second concern with the jump from television to the big screen is the fact that MacFarlane doesn’t have to answer to the Board of Standards and Practices. This can be have both positive and negative effects. In the case of this film, since MacFarlane isn’t limited, his comedy suffers a little bit as he no longer has to be as clever as he is with his television shows. Some of the “off-limits” jokes are okay, but layer too many jokes and it starts to get boring.
Overall, everything about the film is alright. The celebrity cameos are a nice touch – some nicer than others. The veteran actors also do a decent job with the material given, despite Mark Wahlberg’s attempt at an accent that keeps disappearing and then reappearing, as if he could decide if he wanted to do it or not. The effects on Ted are pretty good and the film does try to keep the comedy flowing during the more dramatic parts of the film. It may not be a gracious step from TV to film, but it’s worth a watch if you’re hanging with some of your buddies and are at a dollar theater. On my personal scale, I give Ted a 3/5.