Mark Wahlberg is John Bennett, a man not interested in the responsibilities of adulthood. John was an unpopular kid. Lacking friends, he wished his prized teddy bear could be his real friend. Lo and behold, the wish came true. After his parents came to terms with a talking toy, the boy and the bear become best friends. Ted acts as John’s protector, shielding him from loneliness and thunderstorms.
Ted is a media sensation for a while but, like any sensation, the attention dies out and he returns to the uneventfulness of life. With the exception of a few deranged fans (Giovanni Ribisi), the talking bear is able to live a normal life. Through it all the friendship pact remains. In fact, the relationship is remarkably similar 30 years later. Instead of being heartwarming and cute though, their story is wild and sophomoric.
After all these years Ted is still sheltering John from real life. John is content with smoking marijuana and drinking beer instead of working hard to advance his career and his relationship with Lori, his girlfriend of 4 years (Mila Kunis). John and Ted are best friends - life long friends - and the movie makes it clear that this is a good thing to have in life. The problem is that the comfort their relationship provides has held them back from progressing as people.
Ted is one of the funnier movies I’ve seen in a while. Ted, the sarcastic talking teddy bear voiced by Seth MacFarlane, pulls much of the weight. His voice sounds a lot like MacFarlane’s Peter Griffin from Family Guy, a point that is exploited later in the film. Ted is crass and condescending, which obviously works because teddy bears are usually cuddly and cute.
The movie is at its worst when it tries to be too crazy. A fight scene involving Mark Wahlberg and a teddy bear was probably too hard to pass up, but the violence was predictable and it dragged on. There is also an extended party scene with Sam J. Jones, the actor who played Flash Gordon. Jones is a childhood idol of John and Ted who turns out to be an epic partier. Once you get past the shock value of a teddy bear doing cocaine and singing karaoke, I didn’t think the scene was very funny. Generally I thought the movie was best when Ted was being sarcastic and John was being lovably dumb.
Jessica Barth is hilarious as Ted’s trashy girlfriend Tami-Lynn. The movie takes a lot of shots at some of the more stereotypical aspects of the Boston area. Wahlberg being a native of the area, the jokes come off more as in-jokes rather than malicious jabs at the town. John’s co-workers, played by Patrick Warburton and Matt Walsh, act as some more comic relief. Joel McHale works well as Lori’s sleezy boss. Mila Kunis isn’t a main factor in the comedy, but she plays along and doesn’t get relegated to being a wet blanket.
A major problem with the film are racist and homophobic jokes John and Ted tell. I get that the jokes were not meant to be hurtful. They were meant to show the two as immature. At one point though there is a scene with a horribly racist Asian stereotype that makes it clear that the use of the jokes goes beyond making a point about John and Ted. It’s lazy and thoughtless humor.
Ultimately, what elevates (and saves) Ted is its sincerity. It’s ridiculous in many ways, but at their core the characters are good people.