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Thursday, July 12, 2012 07:39 pm

While initially engaging, Ted’s act wears thin


Seth MacFarlane’s humor is not for everyone. I have to admit that I need to be in the mood to appreciate his crude take on things, though I do love the tangential structure of Family Guy that allows him to comment on anything and everything. So I was more than a bit hesitant in approaching his first feature film, Ted, the tale of an overgrown boy who has trouble leaving behind his childhood, which is personified by the crude talking teddy bear of the title. As I suspected, the film is something of a mixed bag. It is far smarter in the way it looks at the struggle some have growing up than you’d expect. But while it is genuinely funny at times, the joke runs thin before the final credits roll.

John (March Wahlberg) is the poster child for arrested development. He’d rather hang out with his pot smoking, womanizing, good time stuffed bear Ted (voice by MacFarlane) than marry his long-suffering girlfriend Lori. (With Mila Kunis in this role, you immediately question John’s sanity.) Of course, you can understand the attachment they have to each other as they’ve been together since childhood, ever since the friendless John wished for his stuffed buddy to be real after getting him as a Christmas present.

Not surprisingly, you can’t keep a talking teddy bear a secret for long. Before you know it, Ted becomes a media sensation, appearing on “The Tonight Show,” dating pop stars and fading into obscurity once his act wears thin. The film is dead on in charting the ascent and fall of instant “celebrity,” commenting on the transitory nature of fame and all the absurdities that come with it, which is mirrored in later scenes featuring actor Sam Jones, the star of 1980s “Flash Gordon” who Ted and John idolize and eventually meet. A temporary stay in the limelight hasn’t stopped him from partying like it’s the era of cocaine and excess, which cause the man and his bear to admire him all the more.

This is a film that runs to personal tastes. I’m sure I will be in the minority when I say that Ted is a bit of a mixed bag. When it’s funny, it’s very funny. But a subplot involving a father and son (Giovanni Ribisi and Aedin Mincks, respectively) plotting to kidnap the toy brings things to a screeching halt. The bear’s act wears thin after awhile. Ted reminded me of that obnoxious guy in high school who everyone thought was the life of the party. I liked being in his company for a while but I would eventually drift away and stand on the sidelines, wondering why everyone didn’t realize what a jerk he really was.

Contact Chuck Koplinski at ckoplinski@usd116.org.

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