Tuesday, 31 July 2012

Review: Ted (Spoilers)

CAUTION: Yen's blog contains harsh language and even harsher notions of propriety. Reader discretion is advised.

Ted poster

Ted (Spoilers)
106 mins / Dir. Seth McFarlane

I wasn't sold by the trailer, as I'm wary of a Seth McFarlane vehicle. That said, I've heard great, great things by people who went to the preview showings the other week, which only serves to make me even more cautious…

The Plot: A young boy's Christmas wish is granted as his teddy bear comes to life and a lifelong friendship is formed. But how long can a boy be a boy, and what happens when it's time to let go..?

The Good: Hats off to Wahlberg and Kunis for playing it so straight. Seriously. Both performers are seriously under-rated, if only because they frequently seem to star in films that demand so little of them. Added to their performance is the marvellous CGI of Ted (and mostly great voicework of McFarlane, even if he's just being a dialled-down Peter Griffin), and the film's masterstroke: That no-one questions the existence of a living teddy bear. Shock? Yes. Disbelief? No. It's a bold move, and it pays off massively as the audience don't doubt it, either. The viewers aren't allowed to connect too closely with Wahlberg's John or his bear, because they're both portrayed as being likeable enough to lead the film, but flawed enough that you don't mind when they're beating the shit out of each other. As a film, it's very likeable, but I had a hard time loving it.

Despite what I'm going to go on and grumble about, there are lots of laugh-out-loud moments in Ted. Maybe not enough to justify over 100 minutes, but it's frequently funny when it's not trying too hard. The cameo by Ryan Reynolds is underplayed to perfection, and even the overworked Sam Jones appearance still holds its own. It's a shame that a premise as innovative as this is mired by such a formulaic plot, but it is still better than a lot of things I've seen this year. I just feel like it needed more work and less incidental characters.

The Bad: You know how certain episodes of Family Guy aren't as funny as the others for some reason, and you get the impression that Seth McFarlane's sat there and thought 'hmm, I can't think of anything intrinsically funny for this part of my comedy show, and I seem to have painted myself into a corner. I know, I'll just have one of my characters say fuck for no real reason, or be gratuitously offensive in the hopes that the nervous-laughter of the audience is confused for amusement…'?

The first half of the film features lots of that. After a deceptively sweet setup, the film shifts into gross-out-comedy™ mode, and while we're assured that John and the titular Ted are besties, we don't really see much evidence of that outside of them sitting on the sofa getting wasted all the time. Don't get me wrong, I get that aspect of it, but all the character development is saved for the second half, which co-incidentally is when the swearing is reined back. It's not that they can't work together, just that McFarlane can't pull it off. 60% of Ted is brilliantly inventive, the other 40% is the most lazy clichéd writing I've seen in a long time. That said, I did guffaw when Wahlberg punched that kid. Trust me, it's funny.

The Ugly: They all live happily ever after in a house just like at the start. Do you see? All Mila Kunis' character had to do was stop whining and accept that things were great the way they were! But would she listen? No. Still, she learned in the end that it was her attitude that had to change. Tch, women eh?*

Worth £8+? I don't think it's really a cinema movie. More of a DVD-night with beer. Lots of beer.

After the credits: Nothing to see, here. As soon as the names hit the screen, you can move along, move along.


An interesting and occasionally beautiful second-draft. It'll be great when it's finished.

* That's the film that I saw, anyway.

• ^^^ That's dry, British humour, and most likely sarcasm or facetiousness.

• This is a personal blog. The views and opinions expressed here represent my own thoughts (at the time of writing) and not those of the people, institutions or organisations that I may or may not be related with unless stated explicitly.

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