“Ted” is an Equal Opportunity Offender
Reviewed by Jason Gregg
I counted 23; it may be more, may be less. But it’s still a lot. That is 23 references to the pop culture of the 1980’s. It is obvious that this is when Seth MacFarlane spent his formative years. MacFarlane is somewhat of a boy wonder for developing the animated series “Family Guy” in his early 20s. If you watch his show you will understand that Macfarlane loves his nostalgic trips back to the 1980s by paying homage to TV, movies, commercials and anything pop culture related to that time period.
With his new movie “Ted,” MacFarlane gives big love to his childhood decade and spends much of his time again paying homage to TV and movies from that era. With writing, producing and directing credits for the film, it seems like he controlled the creative process from the very beginning.
Starting in 1985 we are introduced to John Bennett as an 8-year-old kid who is a loner on Christmas with no friends. Not even the neighborhood bullies will let him help beat up the local Jewish boy. For Christmas John receives a teddy bear with a computerized voice. He loves his bear, Ted (voiced by MacFarlane), and makes a wish for the bear to be his friend for life. His wish is granted and Ted becomes a live walking, talking teddy bear, which scares the hell out of John’s parents. Wouldn’t you be freaked out if a teddy bear walked up to you and spoke?
Ted soon becomes a pop hit and rises to the top but over the years his popularity diminishes and he becomes a gruff, foul-mouthed, rude, inconsiderate son of a…. anyhow he turns into a ‘fall from grace’ archetype living with 35-year-old John (played by Mark Wahlberg). They still are best friends and drinking buddies but soon John’s steady girlfriend Lori (played by Mila Kunis) is giving him the ultimatum -“either the teddy bear goes or I go.”
Ted is forced to look for employment at the local supermarket. A job he despises, considering he had spent the last several years sitting on the couch smoking pot and watching “Flash Gordon.”
At an impromptu house party John reunites with his Teddy Bear along with a special guest star or two. Things get out of control with the drinking and drugs and an angry Chinese neighbor which leads to the break-up of John and Lori.
In order to win his girl back, John gets to perform a song from “Octopussy” at a Norah Jones concert. For having made fun of Adam Sandler in his TV show and in this movie, MacFarlane pulls a Sandler-esque move here. The story lags so they hire a famous musician to liven things up; much like Sandler does when he flaunts Dave Matthews. It was an uncomfortable break from the outlandish humor.
The song doesn’t help and the two stay broken up until they have to work together to get Ted back from a creepy kidnapper, Donny (played by Giovanni Ribisi). The whole story comes to the climax at a famous Boston landmark where one friend has to save another. If you have seen any movies from the 1980s, you can probably guess how this all ends.
Should you see this movie? Are you a male age 17-40? This will probably be your movie, especially if you love the 80s the way MacFarlane does. Everyone from Boston girls to the Chinese to rich black people has a chance to be offended. Since it is a comedy, the off color remarks only hurt for a little while.
A word of advice, if you haven’t seen “Flash Gordon” yet, you better do so before you see this movie otherwise you won’t find 20 minutes of the movie too funny.