Ted was extremely predictable, but I mean that as a compliment. When I first saw the trailer a few weeks ago, I was sold on it immediately. With Marky Mark, Seth MacFarlane, and Mila Kunis all together in a movie with a great premise, I knew that I was in for a treat. I was not disappointed.
Surely, Seth MacFarlane's style has grown a bit tedious in his claim to fame, Family Guy, but what we get in Ted is a return to the foundations that once made the show great: fart jokes and other crude humor that actually works, obscure and slightly dated celebrity references, and just the right amount of physical comedy. There were even a few great jokes that had nothing to do with the plot, though thankfully they didn't require characters to “remember that time when ... ” This movie is Seth MacFarlane at the top of his game. If you were at all intrigued by the previews, or if you've ever enjoyed Family Guy, American Dad, or even the Cleveland Show, then I can guarantee several laugh out loud moments.
Mark Wahlberg and Seth MacFarlane are great together, and though Mila Kunis is perhaps slightly underutilized, her comedy chops are apparent. However, it's the tertiary characters, notably Patrick Warburton and Giovanni Ribisi, who have some of the funniest scenes. Warburton plays a sexually confused coworker of Wahlberg's, whose bit is the perfect combination of weird and hilarious, and Ribisi absolutely nails his creepy yet amusing role as Ted's stalker. Patrick Stewart is also featured as the story's narrator, and he does so with side-splitting aplomb.
This is not to say that the film didn't have its flaws. I wondered why MacFarlane, who voices dozens of very different characters on Family Guy as well as his other shows, didn't craft a new voice for the eponymous Ted. The bear sounds so much like Peter Griffin that they even reference that fact within the movie. Though this self-awareness is chuckle-inducing, one joke is hardly worth depriving the audience of some novelty from a supremely talented voice actor. Still, I'm happy to say that the Peter Griffin comparison is one of only two moments that remotely resembles a wink at the camera. Of all the things that separate MacFarlane's early triumphs from his more recent failings, his callous disregard for the fourth wall has been the hardest for me to swallow.
Ted also stumbles into the classic hollywood comedy pitfall of trying to have a climax that is somewhat suspenseful. The brief car chase is unremarkable, and the whole drama of Act III reminded me of Pineapple Express, which was hilarious until it turned on a dime into a completely different film. Fortunately, much like Pineapple Express, Ted finishes strong after its brief foray into dramatic action. The Animal House-esque epilogue was spot on, and had me leaving the theater with a smile.
My last complaint, albeit a minor one, is the same that could be leveled at even the best episode of Family Guy. Some of the references are just a little too obscure, and some of the more offensive jokes cross the line between comedy and pure crudeness. These unfunny moments are few and far between, and are vastly overshadowed by their hilarious counterparts, but I couldn't help but cringe a little when Ted thanks Norah Jones for 9/11 because she's half Indian. Swing and miss on that one, MacFarlane.
So, if you thought for even a second that Ted might be funny, go see it. It's exactly as good as you think it's going to be.