Saturday, 11 August 2012

Ted- the bear with a difference

When we mention teddy bears, we think of soft, fluffy toys that although inanimate, bring so much joy to children’s lives by the strength of their imagination.  As children grow up, they normally say goodbye to their teddy bears in favour of another toy, or with the thought that they are simply ‘too old’ to have one.  However, for John Bennett, getting rid of his bear isn’t an option.  Ted is a tale of a grown man who just can’t let go of not only his teddy bear, but his childhood best friend. 

Ted was given to John at Christmas when he was a child and whilst John loved him, he longed for Ted to be alive, so that he could have a friend.  By the power of a child’s wish on a shooting star, that very thing happened.  John woke up to find his teddy bear alive, but more importantly realised that he had a friend who, despite being slightly unorthodox in his appearance, cared for him.  The film flashes forward to 2012, where we see an adult John living with his girlfriend of four years, Lori, and of course- his best friend, Ted.  The couple’s relationship becomes strained when Lori is looking for something more from John and feels like they can’t move on with their lives with Ted still in the house, who is now a lazy, pot smoking, foul-mouthed bear.  From then on, we see Ted trying to make his own way in life, with all sorts of hilarity ensuing.   

Written and directed by the founder of Family Guy and American Dad, Seth MacFarlane, Ted is cleverly written and acts as a reminder of why his work has been so popular for so long.  MacFarlane wrote and voices the character of Ted a lot like Peter Griffin- the main character of Family Guy- with blunt sarcasm and the right amount of black humour without being too offensive, so that the film would feel somewhat familiar to fans of MacFarlane’s hit comedy.  An example of this is the use of flashbacks and similes in Family Guy and Ted as strange but funny comparisons of events. Making his feature length film debut, MacFarlane did everything right to make Ted an original comedy and at the same time, seemed like a complete professional rather than a novice at film directing.

I have nothing to fault with the story line itself as it had the cinema constantly laughing and waiting eagerly to see what would happen next.  Admittedly, the film was slightly vulgar and is not for the faint hearted, but you’re not going to get rainbows and kittens in a MacFarlane comedy.  Ted pushes the boundaries and will make you cringe, however that is part of the reason why I thought the film was such a success.  Sometimes I did question if elements of the film didn’t fall into the 18 rating rather than 15, but a lot of what happens in the film is extremely unrealistic and would not influence an audience to try and reflect Ted’s nature in what they do.  

All of the characters had something about their person that made them relatable and no-one faded into the background.  John was the man refusing to grow up for his girlfriend Lori, who was the feisty female character trying to get solid commitment out of a man who was only committed to a bear for the majority of his life. Whilst Mark Wahlberg and Mila Kunis gave excellent performances as John and Lori, I have to give praise specifically to Giovanni Ribisi who played Donny, a crazy psychopath who was obsessed with Ted.  As a child, Donny saw Ted on the television and desperately wanted him.  When John and Ted meet Donny and his son Robert, Donny expresses an interest in buying Ted for his destructive son.  Ribisi is a recurring, unpredictable face throughout the film and brilliantly added so many layers to a character that if played by another actor, could have been a lot simpler but not have the depth that Ribisi gave.

Although it hasn’t even been a week since I saw Ted, I would happily see it again as it made me cry with laughter- something that doesn’t happen very often.  All of the actors and actresses were a credit to the film and their characterisation was brilliant, particularly Giovanni Ribisi.  It was very easy to forget that Ted is a bear and not a human, which is a testament to Seth MacFarlane’s script for giving Ted a voice and personality and also the CGI team for giving him so many human attributes.  Yes, Ted is a film for young adults and not children; however, the start and end give the film the warmth and foundations needed to make it memorable as an endearing story about the friendship between a man... and his bear.

Rating: 9/10

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