After making a wish in 1985 that his teddy bear was alive, John Bennett (Mark Wahlberg) must deal with the consequences of a living teddy bear 27 years later.
I will go out on a limb right now and say that Ted is the funniest movie I have ever seen. I will also say that I am not a big comedy fan. I can usually go all year without either buying a comedy blu-ray or seeing a comedy in the theater. Sure, I have see quite a few comedies, but the ones that everyone quote as their favorites (Blazing Saddles, Young Frankenstein), I don’t find all that funny. Sure, it’s been years since I have seen them, but I don’t remember them fondly. I occasionally watch sitcoms, but rarely find them funny. It’s not that I don’t enjoy comedy, it’s just that the broad strokes of theatrical cinema don’t usually resonate with me. Ted is a completely different monster. Almost all of the jokes resonated with me (a couple fall flat, in particular a karaoke gag about ’90’s songs) and I found that I thoroughly enjoyed the film.
When a young John Bennett makes a wish on Christmas night that his new stuffed teddy bear would come to life (never realizing that while other children were getting Cabbage Patch Kids and Nintendo’s that he got a generic teddy bear), he wakes in the morning to find that Teddy has, in fact, come to life. Of course, nothing is more powerful than a young boy’s wish except for . . .you’ll see. After becoming a star (hell, he;s a living teddy bear) and appearing on The Johnny Carson Show, Teddy is soon forgotten by the public, but he never forgot his best friend. Flash forward to present day, and John is in a dead end job and spends most of his time smoking weed with his best friend Ted (looking a little worse for wear and voiced by Seth MacFarlane). John is dating Lori (a stunning Mila Kunis) and they have been together for four years. Of course things go south fairly quickly, thanks to Ted.
Much like MacFarlane’s Family Guy, this film is packed with pop culture references. Strangely, they are mostly ’80’s pop culture. There are references to Star Wars, Indiana Jones, Airplane!, and more. There is an especially funny and awesome subplot tied to Flash Gordon, John and Ted’s favorite film (wait until you see the party scene with a special guest star, who’s identity I will not reveal here). This is both a blessing and a curse for the film. While I got most of the references (especially the Flash Gordon ones), most of the audience I saw the film with were left in the cold. They were a younger crowd who probably have never even heard of Flash Gordon let alone seen the film. Obviously, a lot of the jokes fell flat for them that were hilarious to me.
Make no mistake, this is not a film for kids. This is an adult comedy. While you might think a film with a talking teddy bear is going to be safe for children, do NOT make that mistake. While this is not a gross out comedy, it is a very adult comedy. While the thematic material isn’t particularly adult, the jokes and language and sexual humor are certainly not for under 17. (There is a particular scene in which Giovanni Ribisi dances to a Tiffany song that once seen cannot be unseen. It is the most disturbing dance scene since The Silence of the Lambs.)
One of the most surprising aspects of the film was how much heart it has. It is not just a comedy for comedies sake. It is a story about friendship and leaving your childhood behind. Obviously, this strikes home for me. I am an adult who still loves his video games, action figures, and movies. I love Star Wars, Indiana Jones, and comic books. In today’s day and age, how many of us have been told to grow up? So we give up our toys and find that we are a lot less happy without them. This film speaks to those of us who have had that happen, and it tells us that you can grow up but not give up our geekdom. That we can still be adults, in relationships and working and still have our joy in life. This is a very great message for those of us who did not want to grow up but have. We can still have our toys. (This was also a theme in The 40-Year Old Virgin.)
A couple of quick notes for this film:
- If you haven’t seen Flash Gordon, see it! You will find this a lot funnier if you do.
- The special effects on Ted are simply amazing. Never do you feel that he is a CGI character.
- Mila Kunis brings a depth to a character that could have been one dimensional. Her talent continues to surprise me.
- There is a hilarious Pink Floyd reference in the film that almost had me choking on my drink.
- Patrick Stewart narrates the film.
Obviously, I loved this film. I am actually planning on seeing it again early next week. Oh, and just in case there was any question, Mark Wahlberg is a comedy genius. His deadpan delivery of his lines combined with the looks on his face elevate this film. I think he is quickly becoming one of our most versatile actors. He can do the action thing (Shooter) and can obviously do the comedy thing. Here he proves that The Other Guys wasn’t a fluke. He doesn’t need Will Ferrell. He can hold his own. Do yourself a favor and see this film, just leave the kids at home.
***1/2 out of **** (Yes, really. I loved this!)