MFR Rating: ★ ★
Ted‘s is potentially a bit of a trap for parents of small children. It’s not quite the smiling teddy bear movie the more relaxed mum or dad may anticipate. The more informed may realise that it’s by Seth McFarlane and like everything Seth McFarlane, Ted contains his signature blend of absurd and vulgar humour littered with pop culture references, but this time featuring a live action cast with the addition of a rather magical and crass cuddly toy.
Ted belongs to John, an 8 year old boy who, like lots of 8 year old kids, wishes that his teddy bear could talk to him. His wish comes true and Ted becomes a celebrity as the world’s first walking, talking teddy. Several decades later and Ted’s celebrity has pretty much ended (although surely such a scientific and physical absurdity should still be attracting considerable attention?), however his friendship with the grown up John (Mark Wahlberg) remains forever strong, despite John’s desperate need to ‘grow up’ and make his relationship with Lori (Mila Kunis) work.
What very thinly attempts to be a touching, post-Toy Story tale about how we all try to hold onto our childhood is instead a typically tactless and inane comedy that we have grown so accustomed to seeing. Alright, it’s Seth McFarlane, what did you expect? But it just seems like it could have been so much better which is what makes it all the more frustrating that it chooses to opt straight for the sort of lowest common-denominator homophobic and racist jokes that are clearly just there to shock. I’m not shocked, or outraged – just a bit bored. I hope for better but I don’t expect it anymore. There’s nothing endearing about any of the characters, not least Ted, it’s just a bit soulless. And then there’s the bombardment of pop culture reference, distinctively American, many of which I have to admit went over my head. I haven’t seen Flash Gordon but evidently if I had I would have found a whole string of gags hilarious. I guess Seth McFarlane has seen it. But I haven’t and thus we see the problem of relying too heavily on pop culture – particularly one specific reference – for humour.
Besides a cute animated teddy, there’s not a great deal to separate Ted from any number of gross-out comedies. It could be better, but doesn’t try terribly hard. The bottom line is, if you’re a Family Guy fan, you’ll no doubt be entertained by Ted. But for me it all seems a bit tired, especially when it could have felt so fresh and endearing.
Ted is out on 1st August in the UK. Running time: 106 mins. Certificate 15 (UK).
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Review by David Rank