Seth MacFarlane, the creator of Family Guy and American Dad, is regarded as either one of the most refreshing voices in comedy of the past couple decades, or as an unfunny hack whose undeserved success has long overstayed its welcome. But whether you like him or not, Seth MacFarlane is moving beyond television to bigger things. Marketed as his “first motion picture,” Ted is everything you would expect from a Seth MacFarlane movie, with frequent non-sequiturs, pop culture references, cutaways, and self-awareness. What you don’t get, unfortunately, is a consistently funny, quality comedy.
The conceit is humorous enough: John (Mark Wahlberg, complete with thick Boston accent) lives with his teddy bear Ted (Seth MacFarlane), who came to life as part of a childhood wish. Ted is as boorish as you would expect from a MacFarlane character, and probably the only teddy bear in pop culture that smokes weed and sleeps with whores. Conflict arises when John’s girlfriend (Family Guy’s Mila Kunis) wants Ted out of the equation so they can get more serious.
As expected, much of MacFarlane’s humor is insensitive, ironic, and over-the-top. There are some great jokes, but they are spread out across a movie that doesn’t have much of an emotional heart to provide any other entertainment. Some found the relationship between Ted and John sweet, but aside from some great moments (this is also probably the only time you’ll see Mark Wahlberg get in a brawl with a teddy bear) it is cliche and predictable.
That being said, Ted isn’t a complete trainwreck, let alone a boring movie. There are hilarious moments as well as great supporting roles to watch, including Joel McHale (Community) as douchebag incarnate and Giovanni Ribisi (Saving Private Ryan, Avatar) as teddy bear-lover channeling paedophile. Other than that, Ted is nothing special. MacFarlane's trademark style of humor is too erratic for the film to have a consistent narrative, and a balance between laughs and heart is needed. Don’t bother shuffling to the theaters for this one.