July 12, 2012

That teddy bear movie

Ted is one of those movies that looked ridiculous when I first saw the preview, then I was shocked when it got so many positive reviews. I was in the mood for a comedy, and the buzz intrigued me enough to get me out to a matinee. I was a little surprised when a group of kids ranging in age from 6-11 walked into the theater with their mom and sat in front of me. From what I'd heard, Ted was not for the kiddos.

I figured the mom was clueless and thought it was a talking teddy bear movie. When the f-bombs started to fly they would surely leave. Well, they stuck it out the entire way. The smallest boy slept through most of it. The next oldest one, maybe 8, looked confused and sad as we walked out of the theater. The presence of the kids in front of me was on my mind the entire way. It significantly lessened my enjoyment of the film. I knew childhood innocence was being destroyed just a few feet from me, and that depressed me.

Having that frame of reference.... here are my thoughts on the actual film. There are two main themes behind this film....
The first, and most obvious, is a familiar movie plot... guy has friends, guy gets girlfriend, girlfriend doesn't like guy's friends and gives him an ultimatum. It is sort of that coming-of-age story where the young man struggles between adolescent immaturity and the new found allure of the opposite sex. The big difference here is that our main character isn't 15, he is 35... and his best friend is a teddy bear.

The second theme isn't quite as well explored, but it touches on the life of a child star. A young phenom who reaches the pinnacle of his career at such a young age now must deal with the banality of normal life. This is a bit of a stretch I will admit, but it might have been fun to cast a former child star in the Wahlberg role.
Even though this is definitely a new take on the situation, as the movie wore on the plot didn't feel unlike several movies I have seen before. Still, it manages to pack in the laughs. The ending might not have been emotionally satisfying, but it was pretty funny along the way.

Seth Macfarlane is a talented individual. I have always enjoyed Family Guy, even when it devolved into all the disconnected random jokes that had nothing to do with what was going on in the show. There was definitely some restraint shown with Ted, but that doesn't mean he stays on track the entire way. There were several flourishes of randomness. When they worked, they were okay. When they didn't work... it felt really stupid. However, they were short and easy to forgive for the most part. The movie seemed hell-bent on going out of its way to be as racist as possible. A lot of the lines that were added in there to make it "edgy" (or whatever) felt really awkward.

I am not a big fan of Mark Wahlberg. I especially don't think he is a comedic actor. He worked fine in The Other Guys because he was the straight man. Ted calls on him to do some actual comedy, and I don't think he pulled it off. Looking back on it, I think the film would have worked better had they cast a different actor in the roll. Maybe a Ryan Gosling or Ryan Reynolds... or even a Freddie Prince Jr, Mark Paul Gossler, or what is Jonathan Taylor Thomas doing these days? Wahlberg didn't ruin the movie. I mean, it had Mila Kunis. He would have had to really screwed up to ruin that.

In the first half of Ted I couldn't get over the fact that Teddy sounded exactly like Peter Griffin. At some point they acknowledge that fact in the film, then I was magically okay with it. I'm not sure how that worked, but it did. It leans heavily on nostalgia and I enjoyed the references for the most part. I've never seen Flash Gordon so I probably missed out on any laughs that were buried in that business.

I don't regret gong to the theater to see it. It would have even been better if I didn't have to witness a young boy being introduced to cursing, drugs, sex, racially charged violence, more drugs, vegetable related sex, and broad asian stereotypes. I guess you learn to take the good with the bad. I probably wouldn't say you have to run out to the theater and see Ted, but it is worth a rental.

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