The directorial debut from Family Guy creator Seth MacFarlane, Ted is boy-meets-bear bromance that's deliciously salty and unexpectedly sweet.
Four years into their relationship, John (Mark Wahlberg) and Lori (Mila Kunis) are about to hit the skids. To the outside world they seem happy enough; she's a corporate go-getter and he's a salaryman at a rental car firm, he makes her laugh, she's supportive and fun. There's just one small problem: John's button-eyed BFF (make that TBFL – 'Thunder Buddy For Life') and perennial third-wheel, Ted (MacFarlane).
As an only child growing up in the suburbs of Boston, John never had a true friend. But all that changed one magical Christmas when he wished for his teddy bear to come to life on the eve of a falling star. Fast forward to the present day – past Ted's short-lived eminence as an '80s icon – and the pair are as inseparable as ever. Where adventure used to be the bedrock of their friendship, however, now playtime involves slobbing out on the couch and watching endless re-runs of old TV shows while throwing back suds and smoking bagfulls of weed.
When Lori's patience finally runs out, John is given an ultimatum that leaves Ted out on his fluffy little ear. For the first time in his life, John assumes the responsibilities of adulthood and starts planning his and Lori's future together. But old habits die hard.
There's a memorable gibe in an episode of South Park in which the Family Guy writing staff is revealed to be a group of manatees that push random idea balls around their tank until a joke is formed. Ted is almost certainly not a response to any such criticism, yet the fact that MacFarlane continues to find success with his own undiluted brand of R-rated pop culture reference-heavy humour suggests he might just be a shrewder cookie than he's given credit for.
His latest pet project is not a resounding triumph – Giovanni Ribisi is wasted as a twitchy nutter who attempts to pinch Ted for himself (and his chubby son), there's an over-reliance on musical cues at various emotional junctures and too many idle cheapshots at the likes of Adam Sandler – but from Patrick Stewart's opening storybook monologue via a running gag involving Flash Gordon star Sam Jones through to its melodramatic Fenway Park climax, Ted consistently hits the mark.
If you like more smarts and less smut from your mainstream funnies, you might want to give Ted a miss. Defiantly and somewhat endearingly, however, MacFarlane's message to the squeamish and the easily offended alike is simple: if you don't like it, you can kiss his fuzzy brown ass.
A live-action comedy from the Family Guy guy? No thanks.
Walhberg's man-child charms and MacFarlane's trusty voicework makes Ted an unlikely but hugely likeable buddy movie.
The bear done good.