Ted (2012)

Ted (2012)

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"Ted? We can never tell Lori about this."
“Ted? We can never tell Lori about this.”

Twitter Plot Summary: The story of Ted, a teddy bear that came to life in the 1980s and has since settled into a regular existence with best friend John.

Five Point Summary:

1. Ahh, the 80s.
2. Ted gets a job.
3. Gordon’s Alive!!!
4. Fracture.
5. Aww, bless.

Ted marked the first live action motion picture from Seth MacFarlane, creator of popular animated series Family Guy and American Dad. Not straying too far from that formula, Ted is the story of the titular character who is brought to life by the wish of young outsider John Bennett, later to grow up and be played by Mark Wahlberg. After finding initial celebrity in the 1980s, Ted’s fame has since dwindled and he is now best friends with John and just living his life as anybody else would, albeit one who is now foulmouthed and a fan of drugs.

MacFarlane’s decision to perform motion capture for the character of Ted whilst directing the live action was an inspired one, allowing for both the real actors and the mo-capped Ted to improv live on set, which is frequently not available in the majority of animated features. This freedom creates a much more flexible approach to the dialogue and gives the character more life than if he had been animated and voiced separately to the live action material.

There will be a certain portion of the audience who won’t get some of the jokes due to the heavy number of references to the 1980 cult classic Flash Gordon. From clips of the film, to borrowing musical cues from Queen’s soundtrack, to a couple of appearances from Sam J Jones – Flash Gordon himself – the references are rife and entirely in line with the Family Guy style humour of “cut to” gags and toilet humour. On the subject of Family Guy and American Dad, look out or listen out for a number of cameos – there are many.

Just two normal, everyday guys. Except one is a teddy bear.
Just two normal, everyday guys. Except one is a teddy bear.

The obligatory villain is provided by Giovanni Ribisi and his overweight son. Ribisi’s Donny has coveted Ted since the 1980s and now wants his son to have what he didn’t. There’s further bad guy behaviour from Joel McHale’s smarmy and incredibly creepy boss who has his targets set squarely on Mila Kunis’ Lori. In what amounts to some good scripting, the narrative has the traditional three act structure but manages to have some fun with it in the process.

It’s also refreshing to see the girlfriend character not being presented as a screaming witch, the woman who wants the man to drop everything that makes him who he is in order to be with her. Her reasons for wanting John to move on from Ted are motivated by her emotional bond to him and wanting him to make something of himself. It’s a believable relationship between the two of them, and it’s equally believable that Ted can walk and talk. Ted’s relationship with Tami-Lynn and his employment at a local supermarket are certainly highlights outside of the Flash Gordon material.

At its heart though it’s a film with a heart at its core, the notion of growing up and leaving your childhood behind and growing up. At the same time it’s also about embracing the best qualities of childhood and applying them to your adult life. Ted certainly won’t appeal to anybody who has an issue with either Family Guy or the slightly more offensive side of the comedy spectrum, however for fans of MacFarlane’s style of comedy – or even Flash Gordon – there is plenty to recommend.

Score: 4/5

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