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Ted **1/2

Ted

Is it worth $10? Yes

Nothing is off limits in “Ted,” a movie in which a cute and cuddly teddy bear is racist, has sex, smokes pot, drinks and cavorts with hookers. If you’re morally sensitive, this is not for you. But if you like to laugh and aren’t easily offended, you’ll find it flawed but genuinely funny.

The fact that “Ted” is the brainchild of Seth MacFarlane surprises no one who’s familiar with his work (“Family Guy”), but in directing the live-action feature MacFarlane runs into story and pacing problems, in particular with a weak second act. However, amid all the crassness lies a sweet-natured story about a man and his teddy, and darn if it doesn’t find a way to be at least mildly heartwarming.

One Christmas, as narrator Patrick Stewart tells us, a young boy named John wishes his teddy bear – aptly named “Ted” – would come to life so they can be best friends forever. The wish comes true, and 27 years later Ted (voice of MacFarlane) still lives with John (Mark Wahlberg) and his long-time girlfriend, Lori (Mila Kunis). Although she’s cool about John and Ted’s bond, Lori sees that her relationship with John cannot move forward until she becomes the number one person in John’s life.

This complicates John’s life, but the frustrating part is that no matter how many times John proclaims his undying love for Lori, he still does dumb things like skip work to smoke pot with Ted, which puts the stability of his relationship with Lori at risk. Consequently, the entire middle third of the movie is comprised of John being a dumbass because of Ted, and it soon becomes clear that he doesn’t deserve Lori. Heck, she’s a saint to be this patient (it helps that she’s played by Kunis, who’s not only beautiful but comes across as a cool chick). As a result, the story grinds to a halt before a decent final act.

Ted

The good news is it’s funny throughout, with writer/director MacFarlane bringing the same “anything goes” mentality of “Family Guy” to this raunchy Boston-based story. This includes fantasy elements, though the cheeky humor of constant “Flash Gordon” (1980) references may be lost on those under the age of 35. And we can only hope everyone understands the “Airplane” spoof when John and Lori discuss how they met.

A lot of other “Family Guy” elements are in play besides MacFarlane and Kunis, who voices Meg on the show. Patrick Warburton (Joe) and Alex Borstein (Lois) also have extended cameos as John’s co-worker and mother, respectively, and writers Alec Sulkin and Wellesley Wild also work on the show. Heck, Ted even feels like a more vulgar, less sophisticated version of Brian the dog, in large part because MacFarlane voices both.

Moreover, “Ted” demonstrates what MacFarlane does best: Take traditional “family” milieus and make them decidedly adult and wickedly funny. To MacFarlane, nothing is sacred. His fans wouldn’t have it any other way.

Did you know?
Seth MacFarlane played Ted using motion capture technology. While shooting he also voiced the character while standing off screen so the actors could play off one another, improv, etc. A video showing the process is here.

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