Saturday, July 7, 2012

Movie Review: Ted

The following article may contain spoilers. Reader discretion advised. 

ML- It seems today that all you see is violence in movies and sex on TV, but where are those good, old-fashioned values on which we used to rely? Luckily, there's Ted, the R-rated comedy by Family Guy creator Seth MacFarlane that utilizes many of the shows's signature quirks, with varying degrees of success. The movie is built upon the classic coming-of-age story that has found great success with audiences as of late (most recently, the spectacular Toy Story 3), and decorated with pot smoking and fart jokes and pop culture references galore. It targets all aspects of a guy's personality, but in doing so, loses much of its charm.

We open in 1985 Boston, where lonely young John Bennett uses his Christmas wish to grant life to his new stuffed bear, Ted. Ted (voiced by MacFarlane, who uses the same voice as Guy's Peter Griffin, something the movie makes note of) becomes an overnight celebrity, but remains friends with John (Mark Wahlberg) into adulthood.

The two do what any guys in their early 20s do- smoke, drink and watch Flash Gordon reruns. The only problem is that John isn't 20, he's 35, and his immature ways start becoming too much for his perfect girlfriend Lori (Mila Kunis) to handle. John must kick Ted out, putting him in danger of a creepy super fan (Giovanni Rivisi) who has been obsessed with the bear since he, too, was a boy.

The film suffers from being too formulaic: the cliched narrator is annoying and unfunny, the characters fit the roles of every guy-oriented romantic comedy of the last ten years. Joel McHale does his best as the skeezey, spoiled boss, but he can't make the part special because there's nothing there to enhance. Rivisi nails the creepiness as he sways his hips to Debbie Gibson alone in his living room, but there could have been much more development into his psychosis. 

I don't mean to be too critical, because the movie is funny. Unfortunately, the funniest scenes were all in the trailers, so those who watched them over and over again in anticipation may have been disappointed in the theater. Some of the best bits included a topical jab at box-office rival Katy Perry, flashbacks to John and Lori's first encounter, and cameos by Norah Jones, Sam Jones (no relation), Ted Danson and Ryan Reynolds. These moments weren't enough, though, to carry the weight of the rest of the film.

Wahlberg creates a believable character, the guy who just needs to grow up and realize he's got the catch right in front of him, but his performance is nothing revolutionary. That being said, most of his scenes consist of acting against an inanimate bear, and he managed to nail that chemistry. Kunis plays her part, too, one that left me with one major gripe at the end of the film: how come a young boy needs it to be a Christmas miracle to get a bear to come to life, and all Mila Kunis has to do is bat her overly-made up eyes and the shooting stars give her just as much precedence? Seems unfair and contrived to me!

Ultimately, I ask myself: How different is this movie from the rest of the stoner rom-coms, aside from the talking bear? Cast Seth Rogen as the loser friend and I feel like I've already seen that movie three or four times before. The premise of a man dealing with adulthood by abandoning his maladaptive childhood vices through the use of actual toy bear character is clever, no doubt, but the movie fails to take full advantage of the unique idea and instead settles into the safe, established confines of the genre. MacFarlane relied too strongly on the good, old-fashioned values of moviemaking  to create something extraordinary. Mike's GradeB.

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