In every classic childhood tale of a young boy bonding with an inanimate object or fantastical being, there’s always a lingering curiosity of what happens once the credit fade to black. “Ted” is the answer—a bold, raunchy comedy that basically states if ‘E.T.’ were to ever return back to Earth to visit Elliot as an adult, the two would be doing bong rips together, swearing like sailors, and refusing to grow up.
I love this idea, and it becomes something riotously funny, unapologetically crude, and gleefully offensive with “Ted.” The directorial debut of “Family Guy” creator Seth MacFarlane, “Ted” flash forwards 27 years after a friendless eight-year-old named John Bennett makes a wish for his new teddy bear to come to life.
What the future gives us is Mark Wahlberg playing the adult John Bennett, a man-child trapped in a severe case of arrested development—still shacking up with his teddy bear (voiced by MacFarlane) and cutting work to get stoned. But all John’s girlfriend Lori (Mila Kunis) wants is for Ted to move out so she and John can truly start their lives together.
So here we have our point A, and I would be lying if I said that all the beats hit along the journey to point B weren’t entirely predictable. They are. But I would also be lying if I denied this movie’s ability to make me laugh on endless loop for consistent stretches of time. MacFarlane gets forgiven for a constant reliance on formula in exchange for filling that formula with some of the funniest material I have seen this year.
It is a juvenile, blunt, and edgy humor that’s now trademark of the man who brought the very-funny “Family Guy” to televisions in 1999, and then ran that show into the ground in recent years. But “Ted” has promise of a new direction for MacFarlane beyond TV.
He has an extremely keen eye for comedy, and “Ted” showcases some of the bawdiest bits of semi-genius I have witnessed for some time. With an R-rating, MacFarlane knows no limits with jokes ranging from riffs on Boston girls, cracks at racial stereotypes, and cleverly inserted pop culture references. There is a running gag involving “Flash Gordon” that very well may be the movie’s best comedic offering.
He also isn’t afraid to skewer whoever he feels like. Judging from the script—co-written by MacFarlane and “Family Guy” collaborators Alec Sulkin and Wellesley Wild—celebrities like Katy Perry, Adam Sandler, and Brandon Routh may not leave the theater laughing as hard as everyone else. Cheap shots? Sometimes. But any movie that openly mocks Sandler’s “Jack and Jill” is okay in my book.
Wahlberg is hilarious; his half-angry, half-confused mug is always gold in comedies like this. I liked him in “The Other Guys,” loved him in “Ted,” and comedies suit the actor well. Heck, he gave the funniest performance in “The Departed” by far.
Accompanied by a rude-talking, Boston-accented teddy bear, Wahlberg has got great company with Ted—who I predict will easily become an exhaustively over-quoted movie character of immense popularity. People love fluffy, but combine that fluffy with F-bombs and fart jokes and you’ve got yourself something completely different.
“Ted” is funny—hilarious, even. It has something to say about growing up and says it well, and MacFarlane has no problem piling on the laughs while playing out the motions of an extremely predictable story arc (the third act does get a bit weary). But despite a few fledgling errors and unnecessary filler material, “Ted” is an introduction to the MacFarlane of film I am looking forward to seeing more of. “Ted” will leave your stitches successfully busted at the seams.
Greg Vellante is a film critic for The Eagle Tribune.