In a cinema summer that is likely to be remembered for superhero and comic book blockbusters, the comedy genre has suffered quite a bit.
Led by overwhelmingly negative reviews for Adam Sandler’s “That’s My Boy,” which received a 23 percent “rotten” rating on Rotten Tomatoes, fans looking for laughs have been disappointed. Fortunately for those fans, “Ted” finishes closer to the laughs of “21 Jump Street” than the disappointment of “That’s My Boy.”
At first glance, Seth MacFarlane’s first major film seems to be a big screen version of his popular television show “Family Guy”. A show with a fanbase of cult-following loyalty, Family Guy has as many detractors as it does supporters. Although “Ted” has certain similarities, the film depicts a wider range of emotions.
The film is full of the predictable qualities of a MacFarlane production: talking animals, pop culture references, envelope pushing jokes and promiscuity, as far as the eye can see.
What wasn’t predictable, however, was the heart of the movie.
At its very base, Ted is more of a film about the value of friendship rather than the saga of a foul-mouthed teddy bear.
Mark Wahlberg, who plays the character of John Bennet, serves as a relatively straight-arrow man in the film when compared to the character of Ted (voiced by Seth MacFarlane). Wahlberg’s performance deserves a greater amount of credit given that his scenes were shot alone, with the title character’s computer generated image added in later. The chemistry between Wahlberg and the fictional bear is a highlight of the film.
Bennet takes romantic interest in Lori (Mila Kunis), a woman who manages to toe the line between “nagging female lead” and “heartfelt supportive girlfriend” admirably.
When Bennet becomes a human version of his bear, the presence of Lori allows the film to go from an in-your-face comedy to a romantic comedy with more heart than hurt.
With the lead role going to a teddy bear that curses and uses drugs frequently, “Ted” had the potential to become a lazy production – one that simply settles for the laughs that come from the shock value of a teddy bear with a bong.
However, MacFarlane and two “Family Guy” writers, Alec Sulkin and Wellesley Wild, managed to earn the laughs. Although some jokes fell flat, the ones that took off managed to soar.
The surprising emotion of the film comes from the image of Ted, the angry, aggressive and vulgar bear that somehow still manages to seem cute and cuddly. In any conflict, it is difficult to side against Ted. The character says it best when he responds to a question on his lack of responsibility, “I don’t have to! I’m a…teddy bear!”
As a whole, “Ted” serves its intended purpose as a laugh-filled film serving as a break between the multitude of action-packed superhero films that have defined the summer. What it adds is emotion, including multiple teary-eyed moments in the third act of the film. The inappropriate comedy is balanced by the unexpected emotion, turning it into a film that brings more to the table than fans will be looking for.