Friday, 3 August 2012
Director: Seth MacFarlane
Cast: Mark Wahlberg, Seth MacFarlane, Mila Kunis, Giovanni Ribisi, Joel McHale.
I'd like to start this review with a message for those of you who do not know who Seth MacFarlane is. Firstly, please get in touch with me, as I would like to learn your cave-dwelling survival skills in case I too ever get trapped under a rock. Secondly he's the man behind Family Guy, The Cleveland Show & American Dad.
Ted marks MacFarlane's first venture into the feature-length, live-action realm, and what a debut it is. Even in the opening 5 minutes of Ted, you can tell that what you are watching is coming from the comedic genius that brought you the likes of Stewie Griffin & Stan Smith. Many MacFarlane hallmarks are there from the off: The distinguished voice of Sir Patrick Stewart as narrator (he voices CIA Director Bullock in American Dad, for all you cave dwellers), the brass-heavy orchestral score, & the handful of 80's throwbacks.
And an 80's homage it is too. The opening plot point is more reminiscent of the likes Tom Hank's Big. A small boy named John from Boston has trouble making friends, so wishes upon a star (as you do) for his Teddy Bear to come to life. A wholesome and heart-warming premise that has Pixar written all over it right? Well not quite. What follows is a superb, Spielberg-esque montage sequence showing John and, the now-famous, Ted growing up together, until we reach the present day in which we see the pair smoking pot and watching Flash Gordon.
The following hour and a half is sheer comedy bliss. Ted himself is probably the funniest and most believable example of CGI to date, thanks to a blend of incredible visual effects and the voice talents of MacFarlane himself. As a reference point, you could say Ted is a mix of Brian & Peter Griffin, both in voice and attitude. However, you do not mistake this for being Family Guy: the motion picture. It is so much more than at.
As I've already said, their are many MacFarlane hallmarks, visible in the cast (Mila Kunis, Patrick Warburton, Alex Borstein & John Viener are all Family Guy alumni), the cut-scenes, the topical humour, and the celeb bashing (Chris Brown gets the sharper end of the stick, look forward to that). These things combined with some hilarious set pieces make for some serious, gasping-for-breath laughs.
On top of all this comes Ted's secret weapon, and boy, is it a shock. Seth Macfarlane's masterstroke in making this film turns out not to be the script, or the jokes, but the decision to cast Mark Wahlberg. Quickly proving himself to be the most versatile man in Hollywood, Wahlberg uses his acting chops to turn out a very likable character with the comic timing of a pro. His crowning glory? The scene from the trailer where he lists trashy girls names with the speed and pronunciation that call back to his Marky Mark days with the Funky Bunch.
So there you have the strengths of Ted. Any weaknesses you ask? Well, few and far between to be honest. It really depends what you're looking for from this film. To reiterate, this is not a Family Guy reincarnation, and the final quarter of the film does take the chance to sacrifice all-out comedy for a satisfying, and surprisingly moving finale. Some may see that 10 minute gap of story-over-humour as a weakness, personally I think it makes more a much more substantial film.
Seth MacFarlane gives us all the best parts of his TV shows and adds more to them. Ted has laughs galore, but also doesn't slack on heart and story. Great performances from the extremely likable Wahlberg and Kunis, and the most lovable bear since Pooh. The best comedy of 2012. 8/10