Saturday, 30 June 2012


Universal Pictures
Now Showing

Paddington, Winnie, Yogi. Loveable bears with varying degrees of mischievousness, but not once did they ever drop an 'f' bomb or take a hit from a bong. Say hello to Ted, the knee-high, soft plush bear come to life, and the titular character in animator Seth MacFarlane's feature directorial debut.

Like a Teddy Ruxpin doll implanted with a computer chip designed by MacFarlane -- or Satan, depending on your sensibilities -- Ted has a (dodgy) Bostonian accent, a penchant for pot and profanity, and a shared fear of storms with his thunder buddy and BFF, John Bennett (Mark Wahlberg).

Ted and John have been together since the bear was gifted to a young Johnny one Christmas, and the boy made a wish that his bear would come to life. And he did! Pseudo celebrity followed for Ted, but now he and the 30-something John share an apartment in Boston with John's girlfriend, Lori (Mila Kunis).

The pair have been dating for four years, and while Lori likes Ted, she also feels that the bear is holding John back; suspending his adolescence and preventing him from making an adult commitment to their future. It's time for Ted to get a place of his own.

It may be MacFarlane's first foray into live action, but your enjoyment of Ted will depend very much on your enjoyment of MacFarlane's well known sense of humour -- pop culture riffing and jokes to offend everyone -- as displayed in his television work, The Family Guy and American Dad. (The character of Ted very much has his antecedents in the former's Brian, the talking dog, and the latter's Roger, the alcoholic alien.)

And at 106 minutes, that humour may be stretched too its limit; Ted is essentially a series of two minutes skits -- Ted hosts a house full of hookers and one takes a dump on the floor; John and Ted play 'guess the check-out chicks white trash name' game -- loosely held in place by a semblance of plot: Ted's life of independence, and his run-in with a creepy stalker (Giovanni Ribisi) with a fat son and thing for 1980s pop starlet, Tiffany.

Still, there's plenty of laughs to be had in Ted, the highlight being a Bourne-like hotel room smack down between Ted and John. And Wahlberg, better known for his tough guy roles, is actually a pretty good sport and displays excellent comic chops. Equally impressive is the CGI, which renders Ted near life-like.

In what's been a lacklustre year for comedy thus far -- Carnage, Friends With Kids, and 21 Jump Street being the best of the bunch -- Ted gets the second half of 2012 off to a good start. He may not be everyone's cup of tea, and he's definitely not for kids, but he's loveable in his own dirtier-than-the average-bear kind of way.

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