Rude, crude Ted gives great laughs

TED. With Mark Wahlberg, Mila Kunis, Seth MacFarlane, Joel McHale and Giovanni Ribisi. Directed by Seth MacFarlane.

John Bennett is a boy living in a Boston suburb in 1985. He struggles with loneliness and wants nothing more than a friend to play with. His parents give him a teddy bear for Christmas and, in his loneliness, he makes a wish that his bear will come to life and befriend him. To his surprise (and, initially, to the horror of his parents) his wish comes true. He names his new friend Ted and the boy and his teddy soon become buddies for life.

Despite the premise, Ted is definitely not a movie for children. John Bennett, played as an adult by Mark Wahlberg, grows up to be something of a deadbeat, lacking direction in his life and stuck in a dead-end job at age 35. It is implied that his friendship with Ted had something to do with his life’s derailment, since, of course, even Ted cannot remain young forever and, being a teddy bear, he lives life without any sense of responsibility. Although his heart is in the right place, Ted (voiced by writer and director Seth MacFarlane) is a hard-living, hard-drinking womaniser, whose favourite past-times involve illicit substances and watching hours of bad television.

Personal taste will play a large part in a movie-goer’s enjoyment of Ted. Most of the humour is crude and below the belt. Some jokes miss the mark, while others cross the line and only succeed in being offensive or juvenile. However, MacFarlane is truly a gifted comedy writer and most of the screenplay shows genuine wit and perfect comic timing. The humanity of the characters and MacFarlane’s sympathy for their problems and predicaments also mitigate the film’s potential offensiveness and Ted, despite his questionable morals and behaviour, is a truly endearing character. Most viewers will leave the theatre having been pleasantly entertained by one of the year’s funniest films.

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