“Now if there’s one thing you can be sure of, it’s that nothing is more powerful than a young boy’s wish. Except an Apache helicopter. An Apache helicopter has machine guns AND missiles. It is an unbelievably impressive complement of weaponry, an absolute death machine.” – The Narrator, Ted (2012)
I seem to be watching a lot of films starring CGI bears as of late, don’t I? Yesterday was Paddington (2014), today is Ted and tomorrow may very well be Ted 2 (2015). Anyways, that’s just a very odd coincidence that I’m going to capitalise on. Ted is a film that surprised me in many ways. I’ve seen it before, that much I know, but I didn’t actually realise how very well crafted it was until now. To be fair, it’s a polarising film, it’s like if Marmite had embodied a film. But what did I think of Ted? Well, read on and find out. We’re going to have the same problem as we did with Paddington. If I’m referring to the character, Ted, it won’t be in italics. Ted, Ted. It’ll be fine.
The film follows Ted (Seth MacFarlane) and his best friend John (Mark Wahlberg). Although the two are firm friends, Ted is the third wheel to John’s relationship with Lori (Mila Kunis). There’s a lot more to the story than that but giving it away would probably ruin the film for you. At this time I should point out that I watched the theatrical version of the film, but I do have the uncut version. Honestly I’m not sure why I didn’t watch the uncut version, who knows, who honestly cares.
A lot of this film really depends on how good the CGI looks. To me, it looks pretty dated by today’s standards. There’s definitely nothing wrong with it, and Ted looks great, but there’s something very weird about it. Still, it’s not too big a problem, it certainly doesn’t look as good as Paddington, but there’s nothing wrong with it. Honestly the CGI didn’t need to look stellar for this film to be funny. Let’s be fair, it looks like the bear is really there. Christ I didn’t mean to rhyme the sentence like that. Not the point, Ted looks good, it shows how well CGI has come.
Because of this we just have to rely on Seth MacFarlane to deliver on the voice acting aspects. Now I’ll be honest, I’m not the biggest fan of his work. I do like him as an actor, but so far I’ve yet to see him in anything better. So it’s sort of sad in a way that his defining role is that of a talking bear. He plays the performance well, his voice acting is stellar and his impressions throughout are even better. I’ll be honest he works extremely well with Mark Wahlberg, who surprisingly doesn’t suck in this film. They’ve got some great comedic timing throughout and the plot relies on them working together, so fair enough they hit the nail on the head.
Somehow they managed to get Patrick Stewart in on this film. He’s not anywhere in the film, he’s the narrator, and what a great job he does. For the most part he isn’t in the film but he’s genuinely worth the special mention here. Alongside cameos such as Stewart, they also managed to get Sam Jones and Tom Skerrit in this film. Both of them provide some extremely brilliant moments and it only adds to the comedy. Seeing Flash Gordon and Dallas in a film about a talking, CGI bear was genuinely confusing. It was an absolute delight seeing cultural icons though.
But that’s what this film does, it has an abundantly huge reliance on pop culture. There’s nothing wrong with that as long as they’re in small doses. For the most part they were very cool to see. The first five minutes of the film is just a montage of eighties stuff, the NES and Cabbage Patch Kids or whatever the hell they are feature. We hear some music from films, a lot of references to 90s film and television. Hell, even Ted Danson shows up to do a little cameo on an interview Ted watches on TV. I don’t think there’s an over reliance on these moments, but it’s definitely a strong part of the film.
It’s a film full of familiar faces once again. Ryan Reynolds has a cameo, Patrick Warburton has a small role. The aforementioned Dansen, Jones and Skerrit also feature briefly throughout. So does Matt Walsh. A film full of familiar faces shouldn’t be a surprise when it comes to comedy, these are all recognisable parts of comedy and pop culture. When you think about it the over reliance on pop culture is definitely used in the best possible ways.
What isn’t a strong part of the film however is the plot. It’s a little different considering one of the characters is a bear, but it’s pretty cliche. John and Lori go through the whole break up, back together by the end of the film shtick that all comedy films do. I swear they just make more and more of these things with no end in sight. Still, it gets the job done though doesn’t it? Really when it comes to a comedy film, the plot is second place when it comes to importance. When a comedy does a romantic plot, it’s most likely because it’s traditionally where the most laughs come from. Remember Yes Man (2008) and how feel good the ending was? That’s what a comedy needs, a feel good ending. It just so happens romantic plots are feel good most of the time.
For a film where I witnessed Flash Gordon and a CGI bear snort cocaine and then fight a duck called James Franco, I’m fairly certain Ted is a pretty good film. Certainly it’s not the smartest in regards to it’s plot, but you can overlook that. For every cliched moment in the film, there are always two fantastic jokes round the corner. MacFarlane’s delivery is stellar to the point where you think he’s just adlibbing and hitting the nail on the head every time. If it weren’t for the crummy plot then Ted would be pretty close to a full five stars. Still, not everything falls into place, which is obvious with most films these days.
Still, a Mark Wahlberg comedy that doesn’t make me want to jump out of the nearest window is always a pleasant surprise. With Daddy’s Home 2 (2017) on the way I can only hope for a quick and painless leap from a window. Wahlberg, Kunis and MacFarlane definitely work extremely well together and the plot is interesting enough to keep the runtime smooth. Without a doubt this film is definitely worth a watch, it’s a nice comedy that is contained to a pleasurable run time.