Fur And (No) Loathing
In Clifford Chase’s 2006 novel Winkie, writer Clifford Chase told the story of how the titular character was unfairly accused of being a terrorist because they associated with an insane English professor. But what made the book so funny and weird, and thus interesting, was that Winkie was a teddy bear who had come to life. Were it about a man, it would’ve been a much sadder novel.
Happily, the same cannot be said about Ted, the new movie from Family Guy creator Seth MacFarlane. In it, a small boy named John wishes his teddy bear would come to life, only to have his wish granted. Flash ahead a few years, and the two are still best friends, and live together in Boston. But when John (played as an adult by Mark Wahlberg) is told by his girlfriend Lori (Mila Kunis) that it might be time to grow up, he runs into some resistance from his old pal Ted (voiced by McFarlane) and his own immaturity.
The thing is, the film doesn’t hinge on the fact that Ted is a teddy bear and not a person. Okay, so seeing a teddy bear smoke weed and do shots is funnier than seeing some fat schmuck do it, but Ted is so whacked, so weird, so out there, that the movie would be nearly as funny if it wasn’t centered around a foul mouthed, pot smoking, alcoholic, whoremongering toy.
None of which will surprise fans of McFarlane’s other enterprises. The humor in Ted is very Family Guy-esque, right down to the random celeb bashing, surreal moments, and non sequiturs. There’s even a weird flashback as well as tons of recurring jokes. It’s so Family Guy-ish, in fact, that when a brutal fight breaks out, you half expect a giant chicken to show up.
Of course, being very Family Guy-esque, a lot of the jokes will offend the easily offended, as well as anyone who thinks childhood things are sacred and innocent and should never be portrayed as anything less than pure and good and wholesome. But then, those people don’t like Shakes the Clown or South Park, either.
As funny as the movie may be, though, it’s not the most original story. You probably know, just from the set-up, how it will end. But the script is so jam packed with hilarious moments that it probably won’t bother you when the obvious happens. Especially since some of the funny moments, while not important to the plot, are rather surreal and unexpected. For example, we all know [AND THIS IS A SPOILER ALERT FOR ANYONE WHO’S NEVER SEEN A MOVIE IN THEIR ENTIRE LIFE] that John is going to screw things up with Lori with help from Ted. But while you won’t be surprise that it happens, or how, what is said and done when it happens is still so odd and unexpected that you’ll probably find it hysterical. Especially if you’ve seen Flash Gordon. [END SPOILERS]
It also helps that Wahlberg, Kunis, and McFarlane are good in this film. Sure, it’s no surprise that McFarlane does a good job voicing a teddy bear, or that Kunis is likeable, but Wahlberg is surprisingly likeable as well as he’s not being the bristly jerk he usually plays. You’ll actually buy that Lori would go out with him and that Ted would be friends with him. And that he’s an irresponsible stoner living in a state of arrested development.
In the end, Ted is still the funniest — and weirdest, and most out-there — movie since The Muppets. It’s so funny, in fact, that even a fellow teddy bear serving 25-to-life for treason would find it funny. And that Winkie guy, he don’t find nothin’ funny these days.