Movie review: Crude overwhelms cute in MacFarlane's 'Ted'


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Potty-mouthed kids or grannies are nothing new to the movies. But Seth MacFarlane takes the concept to a new high (low?) in the R-rated comedy "Ted," featuring a teddy bear come to life.

He's a 1985 Christmas gift for John, a friendless 8-year-old Boston boy, and when anyone squeezes the toy's tummy, Ted says in a high-pitched voice, "I love you." John tells his teddy, "I wish you could really talk to me because then we could be best friends forever and ever."


'Ted'

2 stars = Mediocre
Ratings explained
  • Starring: Mark Wahlberg, Mila Kunis, voice of Seth MacFarlane.
  • Rating: R for crude and sexual content, pervasive language, and some drug use.

In what his mother terms a Christmas miracle, the wish comes true, and Ted can walk, talk and, once he gets older and his voice much deeper, smoke pot, invite hookers over to watch bad Adam Sandler comedies and drive John, now 35, to work if he's too wasted to take the wheel.

If three is more crowd than company, John (Mark Wahlberg), Ted and Lori (Mila Kunis) are a crowd. After four years of dating, Lori tells John, "You're not giving anything a chance if you keep blowing off work to get high with your teddy bear."

John needs to man up and quit acting like a boy and Ted has to ted up, get a job and an apartment of his own, but breaking up is hard to do.

For every absurd nugget or cameo ("Flash Gordon" fans will be in nostalgia nirvana) or classy voiceover by Patrick Stewart, there is yet another joke about flatulence or vulgar references to sex or a tasteless one-liner.

Mr. MacFarlane, creator and voice guru of TV's "Family Guy" who directs and co-wrote "Ted" and speaks for the title character, pushes the limits and, for good measure, pushes them again. How much you laugh may depend on your continuum from outrageously hilarious to purposely offensive, as with a joke about Lou Gehrig's disease. Not funny, dude.

As demonstrated in "The Other Guys," Mr. Wahlberg has good comic timing and while the bear is a stuffed stand-in for every bad-influence roomie out there, the effects are so good that you think you're watching a walking, talking, beer-guzzling or suit-wearing bear. "I look like Snuggles' accountant," Ted laments.

Ted experiences the ultimate celebrity arc, from talk-show guest to anonymous grocery cashier. "I am a former celebrity in a minimum wage job. This is how the cast of 'Diff'rent Strokes' feels every day," the plush one suggests.

The movie closes with a sinister subplot that seems tacked on but will have you rooting for the teddy, no matter how much trash he talks.

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Movie editor Barbara Vancheri: bvancheri@post-gazette.com or 412-263-1632. Read her blog: www.post-gazette.com/madaboutmovies.


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