I saw Ted last week, and so my friend asked my opinion today before taking her son. I’ll repeat what I told her, “it’s funny – but it’s a talking bear, which is stupid “ – so there’s that. If you actually make it to the theater to see it, you will probably enjoy. The hard part is getting past the idea that as an adult, you’re going to see a movie about a talking bear. Brought to us by the creator of Family Guy, I figured it would be funny. Quite simply, it’s about a man who must put some separation between himself and his best childhood friend, a talking bear. My other friend remarked that she thought Mark Wahlberg had turned a corner in his career and would be above such fare. I reminded her that even Matt Damon (whom I adore) made Stuck on You.
Mark Wahlberg (Contraband) stars as John Bennett, a thirty-five year old man with a middling job and average life. Average, that is until you look down at his best friend, a talking bear. When John was a boy, he was bullied and had few friends. His childhood was a lonely one, and he longed for companionship and a best friend that he could call his own. When he received a teddy bear for Christmas one year, he finally found a companion. I’ve never seen a little boy like a teddy bear so much, but ok. John and Ted do everything together, they are inseparable. John wishes that Ted would be his best friend forever, and that he was a real friend. When a shooting star drops from the sky later that night, John’s wish comes true. When he awakens the next morning, Ted is alive. John panics momentarily, but Ted reminds him that this was his wish. There was a hilarious scene where Ted meets John’s parents, who react as I probably would. Eventually everyone relaxes, and Ted becomes like one of the family. It’s almost like he’s John’s brother, which is a little weird. I appreciated the fact that Ted’s identity wasn’t concealed from everyone else. In fact, Ted becomes a celebrity as word spreads of the sensational talking bear. Through it all, John is right by his side.
Fast forward to present day and Ted is still right by John’s side, which is sort of the problem. As our omniscient narrator accurately points out, even if you’re a talking bear, eventually there will come a day when no one gives a shit. Ted is living a (relatively) normal life with John and his girlfriend of 4 years, Lori (Mila Kunis, Friends With Benefits). John and Ted live like they are still kids, getting stoned and cracking jokes while vegging out on the sofa. Lori is fed up with John’s immaturity, and hopes that the next four years of their life together don’t involve the irreverent little bear. John can’t even make it through a thunderstorm without his teddy bear, all because of his childhood promise to be BFFs forever. Eventually John makes the mature choice, but is able to find the right balance between fun times with Ted and the adult dynamics of a relationship.
A talking bear is obviously a cheap gimmick, but not all humor has to be dry, self-deprecating, or otherwise “smart.” If you don’t find Family Guy amusing in the least bit, it’s probably best to avoid Ted, since MacFarlane is responsible for both. I like that type of humor, so it worked for me. I thought it was hilarious watching Ted do bong rips and fight with John. On the other hand, it’s a movie. About. A talking bear. At the end of the day, that simple fact negates a lot. If you can get past the silly concept, it’s worth a few laughs. Grade: B.