'Ted': Bear comes to life, stuffed with bad behavior
A movie review of "Ted," a comedy about a teddy bear brought to life by the boyhood wish of his lonely owner, played by Mark Wahlberg. Director-writer-star Seth "Family Man" MacFarlane turns the bear into a one-trick pony that's crass, crude and tiresomely rude.
Special to The Seattle Times
'Ted,' with Mark Wahlberg, Mila Kunis, Giovanni Ribisi, Seth MacFarlane. Directed by MacFarlane, from a screenplay by MacFarlane, Alec Sulkin and Wellesley Wild. 100 minutes. Rated R for language, drug use, sexual situations, brief nudity. Several theaters.
Aww, look. It's the bad-behavior bear. Talking dirty. Downing shots. Guzzling brews. Hanging with hookers. Huffing hemp from a bong.
Isn't that cute?
But it's the one-note premise around which Seth MacFarlane has fashioned "Ted."
You know MacFarlane. He's the mind behind Fox's "Family Guy" and co-creator of "American Dad!" and "The Cleveland Show." Irreverent fellow, with a penchant for R-rated humor. A penchant that's let off the leash to romp in "Ted."
Ted is a teddy bear brought to life by the boyhood wish of his lonely owner, John, played by Mark Wahlberg. Friends for life, they are. Stuck in self-perpetuating adolescence, they are, in a haze of pot smoke and bleary beer interludes, even unto John's 35th birthday.
The situation is not to the liking of John's knockout girlfriend Lori, played by Mila Kunis. She wants him to grow up. She wants him to give Ted the heave-ho. She wants a wedding ring.
Ah! Dilemma! Easily sketched. And repeatedly underscored in a seemingly endless series of heart-to-hearts between John and Lori, between John and Ted, between Ted and Lori.
Earth to slacker: Grow up! Right. Got it. Now, can we move along?
'Fraid not. Because MacFarlane, who directed, co-wrote ("Family Guy" writers Alec Sulkin and Wellesley Wild share screenplay credit) and stars as Ted, thanks to the miracle of motion-capture technology, can't stop himself from coming up with all sorts of bad-boy-and-bear scenarios that range from crude to crass and circle back to crude again.
The butt, occasionally in a literal sense, of many of the jokes is Wahlberg. Whether croaking a love ode to his beloved Lori before a jeering mass audience (man, that man truly cannot sing) or enduring an actual bare-butt beating in a frenzied fight with his buddy the bear, Wahlberg gamely submits to a huge amount of humiliation for the sake of the picture.
Some of this is undeniably funny, but the humor is very hit-or-miss. And beneath the surface cynicism MacFarlane sells so aggressively is a river of soppy sentimentality that drowns the picture in the late innings.
So beware the bear. He's raunchy, rude and too self-impressed for his own good.
Soren Andersen: firstname.lastname@example.org