Sunday, August 5, 2012

Movie Review: Ted

I went to see Ted on Friday. For those not in the know, it's a movie from Family Guy creator Seth McFarlane, starring McFarlane, Mark Wahlberg and Mila Kunis.

The basic premise, without spoiling anything, involves a young John Bennett making a wish for his teddy bear to come to life. It does. Cut to twenty-odd years later and John's now thirty-five and played by Wahlberg, and his teddy (Ted) is still very much alive and kicking.

I'm going to split this review into two parts, now:

You'll Love This Film If:

  • You find Family Guy consistently funny. [I don't]
  • You enjoy Patrick Stewart doing eloquent and received-pronunciation voice-overs which include saying things which are slightly inappropriate. [I do]
  • You were born in the 80s and have some sort of nostalgia for 80s things. [I do]
  • A certain 80s science fiction movie with a soundtrack from Queen had any kind of formative influence on you. [It did in my case]
  • You think Mark Wahlberg's actually a pretty decent actor, and surprisingly versatile given his back catalogue, and that he's pretty damned good at acting with a co-star who's not really there. [I do]
  • You want to give the more 'thinky' parts of your brain a rest, and give the parts that laugh at farts an airing. [I do, from time to time]

You'll Hate This Film If:

  • You dislike gratuitous drug references in movies. [I do]
  • You dislike gratuitous swearing in movies. [I do]
  • You dislike gratuitous sex references in movies. [I do]
  • You dislike gratuitous minority-group slurs in movies (whether or not they're supposed to be 'ironic'). [I do]
  • You've never seen Flash Gordon. [I have]

You'll probably be ticking some of the points in both sections. In this case, you've just got to think about what outweighs what: Flash Gordon was a massive influence on my upbringing, so this cancelled out a couple of the gratuitousness items, for example.

Ted is not big and it's not clever. Intellectually, it's on a similar level to Dude, Where's My Car? but it does have its moments. If you're prepared to dig deep enough you can find some decent social commentary and a moral or two, but the underlying 'drugs and swearing are totally things that are fine to do all of the time' aspect of the movie will stop me rushing out to buy it when it's released on DVD. If you're a Patrick Stewart fan you'll want to see the beginning and the end, and for the Flash Gordon - philes, you'll want to stick around for the middle. If you're someone who owns Family Guy box sets, you'll probably be crying with laughter most of the way through.

One of the best things about this movie is that it is yet another example of Mark Wahlberg's acting talent. His acting opposite a CGI teddy bear is so naturally believable I'm not sure I can believe it. He plays a drug, booze and swearing-obsessed guy but manages to get you to like him anyway, which is good because the movie wouldn't work at all if you didn't.

In short, it's a simple movie that rides on the back of Family Guy in that most of its humour is "you can't say that!" shock-value based, with a little bit of slapstick thrown in now and then. As with Family Guy most of its actual appeal comes from the frequent references to the 80s, frequent references to science fiction, and frequent references to 80s science fiction. If any of this holds any interest for you, and if you're able to set the higher parts of your brain on some other task for the duration of the film, you'll probably enjoy it.