“I don’t – I don’t understand.”
Pop culture reference, pop culture reference followed by another pop culture reference; this is what one can say is pretty much the point of Ted. The film isn’t exactly redefining the buddy movie, or the romantic comedy, and neither is it doing both (or one) of those things well to begin with.
If you’ve been watching TV you will know the name Seth MacFarlane. He’s the guy who created, and does a lot of the voice work for, Family Guy. A show which I’m honestly not a huge fan of; it’s not that I find it bad as much as I find it relentlessly repetitive. I will say, in fairness to Family Guy, that it did have me laughing for maybe four episodes. Therein lies what this movie has going for it, it is technically just the first four episodes of a new Seth MacFarlane “joint” where he’s ironed out a reality in which John (Mark Wahlberg) has lived most of his life with Ted (Seth MacFarlane) as his best friend, who happens to be a living, thinking, weed-smoking teddy bear.
Seth MacFarlane, now freed from the social and linguistic constraints of network television, is able to let his full Apatow free with this film, and I feel that there was a misstep in that manner. While I appreciate the numerous Flash Gordon references in the movie, there are many moments (one specifically involving a shit) where it felt like he was just having too much fun with himself and didn’t know when to stop. I almost imagine the filming of this movie allowed for near ten hours of riffing where some form of on stage improve comedy style filmmaking was instituted and at the end of the day MacFarlane would pick which scenarios/scenes made him laugh the most. The only problem with that is that we get a few moments where we’re forced to sit through comedy that doesn’t serve the plot or characters and therefore if you’re not rolled over laughing already then you’re just going to be spending that time rolling your eyes in annoyance.
Wahlberg and Kunis work well in the film. A lot of what made Kunis great in Friends with Benfits carries over into this film with little to worry about. She plays the “cool” girlfriend who wants to be one of the guys well and Wahlberg’s soft, slightly ditzy, portrayal allows for all the comedy to try and be honest. It allows for the idea that this nearing forty-year old man would probably sit around all day smoking weed and watching crappy 80s television if he could get away with it.
While watching this movie I almost wanted to concoct a reasoning into how John had imagined that Ted was doing these things, and he was in fact just pushing his own mental issues into this delusion. However, that would only give this movie more credit than it deserves and create a whole new set of internet trolls discussing the Fight Club theory again.
I think however the biggest problem that this movie has is the idea of its comedy. When you base humour on pop culture references, and that’s 80% of the jokes of this film, then after a year your film is best forgotten as most people would just no longer get the jokes. It’s almost why I don’t like spoof films that much, it spends too long explaining why saying that this fact is funny rather than actually being funny, while films like Detention and Scott Pilgrim vs. The World found interesting ways to create references as character points rather than just throw away gags that if you don’t get leave you with nothing else to grab onto in the film.
On a complete side note: I would love to give this movie an extra point just for having Patrick Stewart as the narrator.