Ted-attachment0

Ted

Movie Information

The Story: A man struggles to juggle his girlfriend and his lifelong best friend, who just happens to be an anthropomorphic teddy bear he wished into existence as a child. The Lowdown: A one-joke premise that’s mindless, rambling and downright stupid.
Score:

Genre: Raunchy Gimmick Comedy
Director: Seth MacFarlane
Starring: Mark Wahlberg, Mila Kunis, (voice) Seth MacFarlane, Joel McHale, Giovanni Ribisi
Rated: R

Here we have it — our first serious contender for worst movie of the year. For those of you who love Seth MacFarlane’s Family Guy and American Dad, then I’ll go ahead and tell you that you’ll probably love his feature debut Ted. This is also where you can stop reading, because you’re not getting much else out of this review.

Ted is a one-joke premise revolving around a lonely kid named John Bennett who’s in desperate need of a friend, so he wishes his favorite stuffed bear, Ted, into existence. After Ted’s short-lived fame in the ‘80s for simply being a anthropomorphic stuffed bear, we find John (Mark Walhberg) and Ted (voiced by MacFarlane) in the present day. John’s in a dead-end job and spends his free time — despite having a beautiful, successful longtime girlfriend Lori (Mila Kunis) — getting stoned with the now vulgar, foul-mouthed, sexually deviant Ted. The plot doesn’t kick in until Lori demands that 35-year-old John put away his childish things by ditching Ted and finally growing up.

That’s the story, but the real idea of the film is the supposed inherent hilarity of watching a pothead CGI teddy bear say offensive, crude, uncouth things. And that’s it. You could literally trade Ted for any number of objects — a toaster, an elephant, an armchair, Jonah Hill — and have nearly the exact same movie. This is a run-of-the-mill arrested development buddy comedy, with a concept behind it that’s already been done decades ago. The idea of shocking audiences by putting vulgarities in the realm of a child’s doll or stuffed animal is an old hat. Peter Jackson covered this territory 23 years ago with Meet the Feebles. Hell, there are five Chucky films, and writer Don Mancini actually had Chucky melt John Waters’ face in one of them. Of course, none of this would matter if Ted were actually funny. The jokes are a grab bag of dick jokes, fart jokes (so many fart jokes), casual racism, casual homophobia, and a small dollop of rape humor. I’d be offended if I could work up the energy to care about this damned stupid, fetid pile of moose dung.

Most confounding of all is MacFarlane’s stunted view of pop culture, which would be easier to handle if the man didn’t insist on shoehorning in — much like his TV efforts — random pop culture references at every turn. If you want to throw around the phrase “irrelevance” in a critical context, let’s start with MacFarlane, a man whose frame of reference began around 1977 and died somewhere in 1989, with his film’s nods toward Tiffany and a large dose of Mark Hodges’ awful Flash Gordon (1980). The only time he escapes from this bubble is when he takes toothless potshots at today’s roster of forgettable pop stars — acting like a man who fills his TV shows and movie with lounge music, and whose critical acumen never rises above the childlike level of “This sucks!” The man is hardly qualified to be an arbiter of taste.

Somehow worse than all of this, his references aren’t even aimed at humor. Pop culture references only work when you care about them in the first place, and you get an idea and feeling of the person making the reference. In the case of his constant mentions of Star Wars, they exist more as a smug wink to fellow nerds — an attempt at evoking a strange fanboy orthodoxism, like a secret handshake where shared interests take the place of jokes and effort. It’s a bad math equation, where if you like Star Wars and Seth MacFarlane likes Star Wars then you should also like Ted by proxy. It’s odd and lazy, and means MacFarlane’s essentially made a really hacky Kevin Smith movie, that lacks Smith’s heart and — surprisingly — his nuance or tact. Please, give me Clerks 2 and its beastiality any day of the week. Rated R for crude and sexual content, pervasive language, and some drug use.

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25 thoughts on “Ted

  1. Jeremy Dylan

    I would contend that this to be far from a one joke affair. If anything, the film is somewhat overstuffed with jokes.

    You could literally trade Ted for any number of objects

  2. Ken Hanke

    Justin can answer for himself, but I suspect he meant one joke in the sense that it has one basic joke — a living teddy bear that says and does inappropriate things.

    Overall, though, high on the list of things I don’t need to see anymore are emotionally stunted man child characters.

  3. Jeremy Dylan

    Justin can answer for himself, but I suspect he meant one joke in the sense that it has one basic joke — a living teddy bear that says and does inappropriate things.

    Well, sort of. But I don’t see what the issue with that is. That’s the major aspect of the second lead character, but it’s not like the entire story of the film can be reduced to that. Is SOME LIKE IT HOT a one joke affair because it’s about two guys dragging it up in a girl’s jazz group? That’s the big, most superficial element of the concept from which much of the gags flow, but like in TED, there’s more to it than that.

    Either TED is just about a teddy bear being potty mouthed or the teddy bear could be substituted for any other object without effecting the story. Personally, I wouldn’t claim either of those things to be true.

  4. Ken Hanke

    Is SOME LIKE IT HOT a one joke affair because it’s about two guys dragging it up in a girl’s jazz group?

    Yes.

  5. Many movies (THE PARTY, THE OUT OF TOWNERS) are one-joke affairs (and arguably almost any “gimmick” movie like TED; heck, the main difference between TED and the old FRANCIS THE TALKING MULE movies is it trades one type of jackassery for another). One could even say that THE GENERAL, which I adore, is at its core a one-joke movie (and basically a showcase for one comic genius; the later Keaton short THE RAIL-RODDER is *definitely* one-joke, but shorts often are, more than features, since they don’t have to stretch it too long). It comes down usually to either *how* well the joke is put across, or if one likes the joke at all to begin with. (I hate MacFarlane, FAMILY GUY, and vulgarity for vulgarity’s sake, so I know I wouldn’t enjoy it).

  6. Ken Hanke

    The Party and The Out of Towners have always seemed like no-joke movies to me. In a more serious sense (not that that doesn’t represent my feeling about them), they’re really more situational than one-joke.

  7. Jeremy Dylan

    they’re really more situational than one-joke.

    This does seem a bit like splitting hairs to me. Either way, there’s a central comic conceit, largely rooted in juxtaposition of two unlikely elements that generates gags and comic sequences throughout the film.

    Regardless, I don’t see that as a problem.

  8. Ken Hanke

    Oh, I think there’s a large difference. But I haven’t seen Ted — and that’s probably not going to change. Nothing I’ve heard has sold me.

  9. Steve

    Well this movie is showing 69% fresh on rotten tomatoes. While I generally agree with the guys, I’m thinking that Mr. Souther just really hated this movie for some reason. I never really liked “Some Like It Hot”, but as Mr. Dylan points out, it was a one-joke movie that is now considered a classic. While I doubt that Ted will acheive that status, I love Seth MacFarlane (with the exception of the notably awful Cleveland Show) so I’ll probably enjoy this.

  10. Ken Hanke

    I never really liked “Some Like It Hot”, but as Mr. Dylan points out, it was a one-joke movie that is now considered a classic.

    I don’t care what it’s considered. I still don’t like it much.

  11. Jeremy Dylan

    I don’t care what it’s considered. I still don’t like it much.

    Mr. Hanke and I have a long documented schism where it comes to the church of Wilder. Ken is much more agnostic than I.

    I love Some Like It Hot.

  12. For me, it’s THE APARTMENT (which would make my top twenty or thirty favorite films period; the top ten is fairly Sturges heavy), then ONE TWO THREE (possibly something like DOUBLE INDEMNITY or WITNESS FOR THE PROSECUTION as no. 3).

  13. Jeremy Dylan

    Andrew and Steve,

    What are your feelings toward KISS ME STUPID and THE PRIVATE LIFE OF SHERLOCK HOLMES?

  14. Ken Hanke

    Ken is much more agnostic than I.

    With Wilder you could almost say atheistic. In fact, I think the only Wilder film I own may be One, Two, Three — and that one I do adore. Wilder made some good movies, but I find a lot of his stuff very overrated. In many ways, he strikes me more as a writer (whose outlook is a little too determinedly bleak for my taste) who directed than a full-blown filmmaker.

    I do have Witness for the Prosecution on laserdisc, but didn’t get it before it went OOP on DVD.

  15. Ken Hanke

    What are your feelings toward KISS ME STUPID and THE PRIVATE LIFE OF SHERLOCK HOLMES?

    (Hmmm. I notice I wasn’t asked.)

  16. Xanadon't

    In many ways, he strikes me more as a writer

    But oh what a writer, in the case of Double Indemnity. Er wait… Chandler may have had something to do with that.

    I have plenty of catching up to do with Wilder (still kicking myself for missing Ace in the Hole as it left Netflix Instant last week) but I found Sabrina to be pretty ordinary and Some Like it Hot to be over-celebrated, perhaps drastically so. Now Sunset Boulevard did strike me as something special, but it’s getting toward ten years since I’ve seen it.

    Oh, and since my interest in Ted begins and ends with Mila Kunis’ pretty face I think I can live happily enough without it.

  17. Steve

    I’ll have to confess ignorance to both, unfortunately. I like Basil Rathbone Sherlock Holmes, even though I know the movies were wartime propaganda for the most part. I own the entire restored collection.

  18. Ken Hanke

    I found Sabrina to be pretty ordinary and Some Like it Hot to be over-celebrated, perhaps drastically so. Now Sunset Boulevard did strike me as something special, but it’s getting toward ten years since I’ve seen it.

    I’d agree on Sunset Blvd. I actually like Sabrina, but I’d never try to make a case that it’s extraordinary — though it is one of his more Lubitsch-like movies. That’s in its favor. (That’s also something I’d say about the much maligned The Emperor Waltz and, of course, Love in the Afternoon.) Ace in the Hole is more unpleasant than my taste leans toward.

  19. Trex

    Some Like it Hot is a comedy classic and to compare it to this piece of garbage is blasphemy. This vile excrement is not worth any intelligent person’s time and will be high on my list as worst of the year. Second only to Battleship.

  20. Chip Kaufmann

    Definitely not my glass of tea. My problem is that I have a ROCKY & BULLWINKLE sense of humor in a FAMILY GUY world.

  21. Big Al

    “…I like Basil Rathbone Sherlock Holmes, even though I know the movies were wartime propaganda for the most part…”

    Granted, I only saw one (something about terror on a train to Scotland), but didn’t these movies place Holmes, a VICTORIAN (1880s) character in the early 20th-century/WW2-era?

    Also, Rathbone portrayed Holmes as very institutional and conventional, very much a “King’s Man”, not at all the eccentric Bohemian that Conan Doyle created.

    Speaking of which, I was watching “Zero Effect” recently. Does anyone know if this was a deliberate attempt to contemporize the Holmes character, a la “Sherlock” on BBC today?

  22. Ken Hanke

    Also, Rathbone portrayed Holmes as very institutional and conventional, very much a “King’s Man”, not at all the eccentric Bohemian that Conan Doyle created.

    You gleaned that by watching one of the later and lesser entries? There are 13 other movies. I don’t myself have any trouble with the updated ones, but the first two — made at 20th Century Fox — were period pieces. It was only when Universal brought the Rathbone-Bruce combination back a few years later that it was decided to place them in a contemporary setting. This was probably less a budgetary thing (period pictures weren’t necessarily that much more expensive in the studio era) than it was an attempt to make them more popular. For that matter, Doyle, if memory serves, set his stories more or less at the time he was writing them. (“His Last Bow” — the source of SH and the Voice of Terror — is set at the beginning of WWI. Holmes’ patriotic speech about “an east wind coming” used to end the film version is right out of the story, but applied to the next war.) It was not the first time Holmes was made contemporary. Really only the first three — SH and the Voice of Terror, SH and the Seceet Weapon, SH in Washington — really played to WWII in a propaganda or Holmes vs. the Nazis sense. There are references, though. There’s a patriotic speech at the end of The Scarlet Claw, but the story isn’t about the war. There’s a shooting gallery with figures of Hitler, Mussolini and Tojo in SH and the Spider Woman, but the story isn’t about that. The only other close one would be SH Faces Death, which is set at an old dark house that’s being used as a sanitarium for shell-shocked soldiers. Now, it ends with a speech that’s more altruistic than patriotic.

  23. Jeremy Dylan

    If I recall correctly, the first two Rathbone pictures were the first time Holmes and Watson had been done as a period piece.

    Up until then, every adaptation had brought the characters forward to the present day – a tradition which as reached it’s zenith with the wonderful Steven Moffatt / Mark Gatiss films of recent years.

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