Seth MacFarlane has always been known (especially through his Family Guy series) for comedy that has inappropriateness set to the max. This can easily be a turnoff to some (especially when the writing is as inconsistent as Family Guy has been in recent years), but it does bring in a reliable audience. If you are looking for some new style of comedy from Seth MacFarlane in his debut film, Ted, you are out of luck. However, with many of the jokes hitting and the creation of one of the more memorable characters of the year, Ted is a complete success.
Ted follows John (Mark Wahlberg), a man who still hasn’t figured life out. John must chose between his girlfriend of four years (Mila Kunis) and his foul mouthed, life-like bear, Ted (voiced by Seth MacFarlane). Seth MacFarlane (who directed, co-wrote and acts in this film) is most known for his animated tv shows so it seemed like his transition to the world of live-action films would be doomed. However, MacFarlane proves himself to not only be a capable writer but a really good director. Almost all of the jokes and visual gags are staged really well (which is shocking considering most of them involved a CGI bear). In fact the only time the jokes don’t hit is when MacFarlane and his writing crew fall back on fart jokes so it was not a matter of staging that was the problem.
The biggest surprise about this film (although probably not that big to those who are big fans of MacFarlane’s work) is that the film is really good at incorporating pop-culture into the film. Some of the easter eggs (which include Indiana Jones posters) may come off as lazy as they easily get the geeks of the crowd into the film, but in many cases MacFarlane and his team incorporate the pop culture references into the plot. The best of these include a couple of sequences involving Flash Gordon references and a scene that gives a nod to Indiana Jones always going back to retrieve his hat.
The film is not without its problems though. Besides the annoying fart jokes there are many other instances where the jokes don’t hit. The film probably has an 80% success rate with its jokes but when they miss they are in the style of jokes that are directed at the Adam Sandler crowd so they miss really bad.
The cast of the film is nothing special but they do everything required of them. Mark Wahlberg is a perfectly casted lead and his presence helps to establish the film as a distinctly Boston film (which is quite the achievement for a comedic film in this style). Mile Kunis is there for eye candy and nothing more but she plays it as such. Joel McHale is doing his usual shtick but it still hasn’t grown old. The only two memorable components of the cast are the cameo appearances and Seth MacFarlane. The cameos are incorporated well and Seth MacFarlane’s Ted is such a great character. Visual effects, voice acting and (especially) writing all combine to create an instantly memorable (and almost iconic) character.
While the film is ultimately a more adult version of last year’s Muppets movie, Ted is still a really good time at the theaters.