Is ted a romantic comedy? I found myself pondering this the other night after watching Seth Macfarlane’s creation. I suppose this question sprang to mind because, at the heart of this film, lies love and maturity.
The crossroads of dilemma are looming for John (Mark Wahlberg). He’s split between love for his childhood best friend, ted (Seth Macfarlane) – a bear brought to life with a Christmas wish – and long-term girlfriend, Lori (Mila Kunis).
All sweetness and light when you’re a kid with a teddy bear for a best friend. Not so much when you’re 35 in a dead-end job, getting stoned with your bad influence, fuzzy best bud.
Bromance vs romance
Understandably, most girlfriends in this situation would issue you with an ultimatum, which Lori duly does. Choose your girl and become a man, or choose the bear and stay a kid. Essentially this film is romance versus bromance – and John has to decide what matters most.
It’s not ground-breaking in terms of tales, but it’s told with a sweet nature and despite ted’s hedonistic tendancies – hookers and pot mostly – he comes across as extremely likeable. Macfarlane giving him warmth and humour with a wicked streak. Reminded me a little of Seth Rogen’s alien Paul.
In terms of transition from animation to film, Macfarlane’s vision has paid off and he’s made the switch well. If you’re a Family Guy fan, you’ll spot lots of little nods, mannerisms and style taken from the show. I was concerned I wouldn’t be able to get past ted sounding like Peter Griffin, but there was no need. Whilst the voices are similar, ted is very much his own bear.
Some things you sense Macfarlane will keep coming back to throughout his career. For example, the man knows how to choreograph a balls-out, ridiculous fight sequence. John and ted attacking each other in a hotel room immediately put me in mind of the recurring ‘chicken fight‘ sequences in Family Guy.
That said, this film isn’t Family Guy on screen. It’s more subtle, restrained and good-natured. Although some of the celebrity cameos are unnecessary – Ryan Reynolds and Norah Jones?! – but some are quite inspired. Sam Jones (aka Flash Gordon) as himself is a rather brilliant inclusion. Who wouldn’t want to do shots at a house party with Flash Gordon?
To add a little dramatic spice to the film’s final act, Giovanni Ribisi also pops up as sleazy stalker Donny, a man obsessed with ted. Donny sexy dancing to 80s pop is a sight to behold.
Grab your thunder buddy…
At just over an hour and a half it’s a relatively short, sweet, heart-warming film, packed with Macfarlane’s trademark humour and a great motion-capture performance by Macfarlane as ted.
We’re also treated to another stand-out turn by Wahlberg, proving he’s fast becoming one of Hollywood’s most versatile actors. He’s so much better at well-scripted comedy and solid drama (The Departed, The Fighter), rather than bland, predictable action (Max Payne, Shooter).
Kunis has less to do than Wahlberg but plays her part well, continuing to demonstrate she’s not just a stunningly beautiful face – but has comedy chops to match. Plus you cannot go wrong with Patrick Stewart as narrator. If you missed ted at the cinema, be sure to see it on DVD – a Christmas gift for all the family!