I usually watched trailers with open mind, but, in case of the trailer of “Ted”, I was unsure about whether its premise would work. Think about it; a living teddy bear who behaves like a mean stand-up comedian frequently shocking you with vulgar behaviors? And he has been the best friend to a 35-year-old guy since they were young? This can be too preposterous to be accepted in the movie unless it is really funny instead of being merely outrageous and offensive.
However, it turns out that “Ted” is on the way of becoming one of the funniest movies I have seen in this year. The movie is indeed outrageous and offensive thanks to its teddy bear character who does lots of dirty and unpleasant things while hurling a ton of barbed words to the people around him, but its constant supply of small gags and big laughs made me and the other audiences entertained rather than insulted, and I could not help but laugh along with the audiences around me as my eyes were incredulous about what was going in the film.
How did this teddy bear become alive? Well, we are told about that through the narration by Patrick Stewart in the opening sequence, which is seemingly genial and avuncular enough to be used in Christmas movies but equally acerbic and sarcastic like a sweet candy with sour core inside. When he was young, John Bennett was the least popular kid in his neighbourhood(even a bullied Jewish boy did not like him). He was lonely because of that, but he had his loving parents at least, and they gave him a nice Christmas present, a teddy bear which could be his good friend to be beside him when he slept at night. During their first night, he wished his Ted to be alive and become his best friend forever, and, on the next morning, what do you know, his wish did come true(The narrator explains, “Now if there’s one thing you can be sure of, it’s that nothing is more powerful than a young boy’s wish.”). Ted became alive and, as we see in the main title sequence consisting of funny photos and home videos, they indeed have been the best friend to each other since that miracle.
It sounds like a happy ending, but it isn’t. Many years have passed, and John(Mark Wahlberg) becomes an adult, but he has been stuck in the arrested development state with his dear buddy, who looks a little worn-out but speaks like a dude who has been spending lots of time on his couch with booze and drugs. Ted became a big sensation when he appears in front of people(he even appeared in Johnny Carson’s Show), but, like many short-term celebrities before and after him, he went into obscurity while causing many troubles including being arrested for narcotic possession.
John has a job, but he is definitely not the most eligible bachelor in his city. He is a mere employee working at a rental car company, and that is not much of a good sign for the guy who has already passed his 35th birthday. But it does not matter to John, because he is happy to be with Ted as long as they can drink beer and smoke pot while watching their favorite movie “Flash Gordon”(1980), which is the emblem of their sweet childhood to them.
It is rather amazing to see a beautiful and talented girl like Lori(Mila Kunis) somehow maintaining the relationship with a likable but immature guy like John for almost four years despite the presence of a trash-talking teddy bear between them, but Mila Kunis plays her character as a nice girl with warm understanding and patience. She knows how important Ted is to a guy she loves, but now she decides that enough is enough. She gives him an ultimatum; it is her or Ted.
The story may look silly on the page, but the movie presents the triangle between the main characters in a convincing way with the help from good CGI and good comic performances. Ted looks as realistic as ordinary teddy bears you can find in stores while also believable as a living creature walking and talking with the others in the movie. Wahlberg and Kunis interact well with Ted on the screen, and I could accept that their characters were dealing with a real problem in their daily life.
The director/co-producer/co-writer Seth MacFarlane, who also provides the voice of Ted with good comic timing and balance, makes a hilarious comedy based on its one-joke promise which could have been easily fizzled within few minutes. I only watched his popular TV animation show “The Family Guy” partially, but I remember watching a very funny sequence where its hero keeps fighting with a big chicken while neither of them is aware of the surrounding circumstance getting messier step by step due to their increasingly intense duel.
The same thing can be said about “Ted”. As the comic moments are kept being thrown to us throughout its running time, some of them are directed and accumulated in unexpected ways to culminate into big laughs. When John promises to Lori that he will not get involved with Ted, we instantly see that he will eventually let her down, but that moment comes with something he cannot possibly refuse due to his understandable weakness, and that is further developed into a manic situation involved with Sam J. Jones, who has a lot of fun with his cult image from “Flash Gordon”, and one hell of aggressive duck. There is also a creepy dad(Giovanni Ribisi) who has been obsessed with Ted since he was young and is determined to do anything to bring Ted to his spoiled son(Aedin Mincks), and his unhealthy obsession is sort of hilariously disturbing.
“Ted” gleefully brandishes its vulgarity and impertinence, and it successfully gets away with its misdemeanors through its effectively outrageous comedy which rarely loses its steam except when it is relatively mellow during its third act as a bromance movie. One of the amusing things in the movie is that Ted had sexual relationships with many women in the past including a certain famous singer who makes a cameo appearance in the film. Please don’t ask me about how the hell this horny little bear is anatomically capable of having intercourse with woman, because I did not see anything notable between his legs during my viewing.
Sidenote: “Ted” richly deserves its R rating for many good reasons, and it also receives 19 rating in South Korean while being released as “19 Bear Ted”. Thankfully, our children are strictly blocked from 19-rated films at the theaters in South Korea. MPAA, please take a note in this.