Wednesday, 25 July 2012

Review: Ted

Rating: 15
Duration: 106 mins

Seth MacFarlane's first venture into mainstream cinema was always to be an anticipated affair, especially if you're partial to his long-standing shows Family Guy and American Dad!

Creator MacFarlane assumes control over director and writer duties for a movie that is about a talking teddy bear. The premise focuses on John (Mark Wahlberg) who, as a child, wishes for his new stuffed toy -- a bear he aptly names Teddy -- to come to life, which it subsequently does. The fact that Ted is the only walking, talking bear of his kind is irrelevant (kind of), as girlfriend Lori's (Mila Kunis) acceptance of the unique situation and bond appears to wear thin.

It all begins promisingly with the sultry narration from Patrick Stewart as the first couple of scenes play out nicely. Seth MacFarlane's desire to break into Hollywood after small screen success is clear, but his venture may have worked better had he persisted with the shockingly offensive nature of Family Guy rather than catering more towards the Superbad demographic. Not necessarily a bad move, the style of Ted is overtly mainstream, as many of the jokes within it accommodate for this audience. But what's ill-fitting is how this essentially adult comedy with a potty-mouthed child's toy is set within a fairytale-style narrative. It makes for a bizarre combination, as the anti-Semitic jokes fail to gel with the more tender moments -- and, believe it or not, there are a few. 

Whilst the CGI character looks rather convincing at times, the gratuitous profanity quickly becomes stale. Therefore, those who prefer a more intelligible rather than gross-out, sweary form of comedy will find large chunks of the film laborious.

That said, there does come a point where it manages to create poignancy, and the story -- albeit as far-fetched as it is -- does deliver on a basic, engaging level.

There are a couple of cameos; mainly appearances from Family Guy regulars Alex Borstein and Patrick Warburton, as well as a few other well known faces that generate genuine laughs, but the overall quality of comedy is far too inconsistent.

Ted is obvious mainstream fodder, as MacFarlane sways from more obscure cultural references to ones about Twitter and Taylor Lautner. The gags throughout are very hit-and-miss: when they work -- and they do at their most edgy and controversial -- they're hilarious, but at other times the set-ups and 'safe comedy' simply fails to impress.