Sunday, July 1, 2012

Film: Ted (2012)

This weekend was the opening of Ted, the first motion picture written, directed and produced by Seth MacFarlane. You might know him as the creator behind the FOX animated shows Family Guy, American Dad and The Cleveland Show. As an animator and writer, he got his start on such Hanna-Barbera shows as Johnny Bravo, Cow and Chicken, and Dexter's Laboratory.

Ted stars MacFarlane as the voice of the title character, a talking stuffed animal wished for by a lonely child. The two grow up together as best-friends forever, but things get complicated for John Bennett (played by Mark Wahlberg) when it is time to get serious with his girlfriend of four years Lori Collins (played by Mila Kunis).

I do not want to give too much away of the plot from this R-rated movie, but I will strongly emphasize that last part. This is a strong R-rated film due to coarse language (you'll bust a gut with some of the things that come out of Ted's mouth), some nudity, drug use, and violence (mostly stuffed bear versus man, again hilarity ensues).

Now, if you think this film is just a pure raunch-fest, think again. While the film has a lot of crude humor it also has a lot of heart. At the foundation is a wonderful story of friendship, love and devotion.

As with any MacFarlane project, the pop-culture references are flying left and right. Young Bennett gets Ted for Christmas in 1985, so anyone who was born before then is definitely in the target audience. Some are just sight-gags but they deliver the smiles. Also, some key plot elements are based around a 1980 film that is a favorite of Bennett's and Ted's - there is enough in the film to fill in those not familiar with it, but for those of us who remember the film well again will get the extra jokes.

It is astonishing how seamless the CGI animation is on the character of Ted. To paraphrase another classic film, which is right in line with MacFarlane's pop-culture dropping, you will believe a stuffed bear can talk (and walk and punch'll see).

I was impressed with MacFarlane's ability to get so many folks in on this project. He clearly has major pull in Hollywood. Besides the two main stars, also in the film are Giovanni Ribisi, Joel McHale, Patrick Warburton, Jessica Stroup, Laura Vandervoort, and Alex Borstein. Patrick Stewart is the tale's narrator. There are also a number of other great cameos I will not spoil.

My wife and I saw this at the matinee yesterday and really enjoyed it. We laughed out loud many times as did the packed theatre crowd. It was a great way to spend a hot summer afternoon. I recommend the film.

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