Ted has a simple but ingenious premise; it is the cute story of a child who wishes his teddy bear would come to life to become his best friend forever…except the film takes place once the child (and his Teddy) have become adults. Ted became a worldwide celebrity in his youth and then spiraled out of control (Macauly Culkin-esque) and is now mooching of his thirty something friend, smoking marijuana and inviting hookers back to their apartment… Not so cute anymore.
To the legions of fans of Family Guy , Ted is familiar territory. There are plenty of offensive jokes about everyone and thankfully, unlike Sacha Baron Cohen’s The Dictator, almost all of them are actually funny. The basic idea that a Teddy bear brought to life because of a wish would become a celebrity is as natural as possible with the words “Teddy bear brought to life” in it. And like all child celebrities it would go off the rails. What makes Ted so funny is that he’s securely grounded in reality despite being a magical plush toy. McFarlane’s voice, which at first makes you think only of Peter Griffin, seems to strangely fit the adorable teddy… and even more so when he’s making vulgar and sometimes very visual jokes.
I don’t often bring up the quality of CGI in a film review mainly because the quality these days has hit a level so sophisticated that it rarely needs mentioning. But here, Ted really does come alive; he looks, moves and reacts with real people in every way you would expect. I won’t go on about it but it is truly remarkable how far along the process the technology has progressed even since the groundbreaking Lord of the Rings character, Gollum. The fact that the character Ted works so well really is an excellently realised collaborative effort from the writing and acting to those artists who painstakingly rendered the shadows underneath tufts of fur on his back.
There has been much talk recently about comedy and its seemingly unstoppable quest to go further and further into the depths of the “toilet humour” category. Think of There’s Something about Mary ‘s memorable “hair-gel” scene (there is something similar in this film), remember how big a deal that was when it happened? There was talk of it being the end of Cameron Diaz’s career (look how that prediction worked out…), yet these days we are watching comedy being crafted by Judd Apatow, Sacha Baron Cohen and now Seth McFarlane. You could argue that comedy is trying to become more and more shocking to make us laugh more, but actually I disagree in the case of Ted, it is funny not because it is shocking and at times gross instead it is funny and just happens to be offensive. Maybe I’m part of a generation which has grown up being far more familiar with this kind of comedy and am perhaps desensitised to its “vulgarity” but I can merely tell you that I laughed. I laughed a lot.
Ted is out Now in Cinemas everywhere. It has a 15 Certificate.