Thursday, July 5, 2012

A couple of funny moments here and there can't save Ted

Seth McFarlane's first film "Ted" is successful in that it manages to capture McFarlane's humor that he has showcased, and subsequently squandered, with shows like Family Guy, American Dad, and The Cleveland Show. Thanks to Mark Wahlberg once again showing some impressive comedic chops, "Ted" winds up being a lot better than it could have been. Of course there are laughs to be had, but like Family Guy and American Dad, the laughs go in as quickly as they go out.

There's really nothing to savor about "Ted" as it has an overly-familiar premise and a very thin plot that doesn't really stretch out too well in 106 minutes. Once you get past the fact that John Bennett's (Wahlberg) best friend is a foul-mouthed anthropomorphic teddy bear, you start to see just how painfully average this movie really is.

Age 8, John Bennett makes a wish one Christmas night that his large teddy bear could talk and be his best friend. To his and his parents' surprise, that wish comes true. Ted and John Bennett grow up and do everything together, but once John starts dating Lori Collins (Mila Kunis) it starts to threaten the friendship between the two. Ted is forced to get his own apartment and a job while John Bennett tries to make things right with Lori. But it doesn't take long before he screws things up by abandoning Lori at a party so that he can party with Ted and Flash Gordon (Sam J. Jones makes a lengthy cameo appearance).

The Flash Gordon sequences are among the funniest bits in the film but it also showcases Seth McFarlane's terrible knack for relying on old pop culture references to make his jokes for him. We laugh because "oh my god it's Flash Gordon!" but the laughs never go any further than that. To his credit though, at least McFarlane never goes overboard with the non-sequiturs and sticks closely to the plot. If only there was more to the plot than just Ted-John-Lori triangle.

In an era where manchild comedies are coming out left and right, Ted just feels so run-of-the-mill. It's like they couldn't get past the initial premise that Ted is a filthy womanizing talking teddy bear. While Ted definitely lives up to that billing, he's simply not as funny as he or Seth McFarlane thinks he is. The potential was there, but the execution just felt lazy.

Furthermore, actors like Mila Kunis and Joel McHale are stuck playing one-dimensional characters. There's the weak, completely predictable subplot involving Giovanni Ribisi playing a creepy weirdo who is obsessed with Ted and tries to kidnap him which unfortunately makes the third act of the film devolve into a car chase scene which feels very out of place with the rest of the film.

Don't get me wrong, I laughed quite a few times when I watched this film but just over 24 hours later, I hardly remember much of it. An overly simple premise and plot keeps this film from being the crude comedy classic it aspires to be.

Grade: C

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