Sunday, 5 August 2012

We all wish for a Ted

It can be difficult to judge the type of audience you will get in a cinema.  Children’s films and rom-coms can be obvious – children and women.  Films like South Park: The Movie is also quite obvious – males!  I often try to avoid the younger audience but during the school holidays this is particularly difficult.  The same can be said for Ted.  No matter what time you go, there will be adolescent couples.

Before going to the cinema I told three people that I was going to see Ted, and received three blank looks in response.  So for those who are new to Seth McFarlane, his work is intelligent and silly at the same time, it is violent and crude but also wonderfully heart warming and tender.
McFarlane is the creator of Family Guy and American Dad which have made him a household name for the younger generation and for those who haven't grown up yet/geeks/those who enjoy crude humour. If you haven't seen these before, I strongly recommend watching an episode of either before embarking upon Ted.

For those who are not new to McFarlane, for the fans of Family Guy and American Dad; you will not be disappointed.
As an eight year old boy, John Bennett (Mark Wahlberg) has no friends.  For Christmas, his parents give him a teddy bear which he names Teddy.  Teddy becomes his best friend and one night, John wishes that Teddy could really talk.  The next morning, John wakes up to find Teddy very much alive and talking.  Ted becomes famous, appearing in magazines and on talk shows, but he is always John’s best friend. 
Ted is the story of thirty-five year old John, now living with his girlfriend, Lori (Mila Kunis), and a grown up Ted.

While this film is mainly about the relationship between John and Ted, it is actually more about John.  How many men out there cling to their childhoods?  Maybe not their fear of thunder, but their adolescent love of beer, pot and partying?  Or just sitting on the sofa getting stoned and watching films from your childhood?  John does all of these things, with Ted of course.  As all men like this will eventually find out, women will only stand for this behaviour for so long.  Despite Lori being more than understanding about John’s relationship with Ted, she naturally wants John to become more responsible.  
The characters, not just the main three, are all very well written.  There isn’t actually any character that you can hate.  You feel empathy for every single character, even the ones who aren’t likeable and that is evidence of brilliant writing.

In fact, apart from one issue, the writing is of an incredibly high quality.  One moment I was shielding my eyes from the screen, the next I was laughing so hard I cried, another moment I was sad and serious, then trying hard not to cry, then just plain happy and smiling like a fool.

There is one predictable moment which I honestly don’t care about because it needed to be done.  So my only issue?  There are a lot of American jokes in this film, jokes that us Brits just can’t hope to get.  This meant that at points where you know there was meant to be laughter, the screen was completely silent, wondering what the hell that was all about.  Again, this isn’t too much of a problem because the American jokes were always quickly followed by generic humour that everyone can get and we were off laughing again.

Seth McFarlane voices Ted and at first I was concerned by the similarity of Ted’s voice to Peter Griffins (Family Guy).  Every now and then I would snap out of the film and picture Peter instead of seeing Ted.  This was solved during a scene when Ted exclaims to a party, ‘no, I don’t sound like Peter Griffin’. 
This film makes fun of itself, it has in-jokes, and like Family Guy it is a cry out to the Star Wars and Indiana Jones geeks out there.

The visuals of this film are spectacular and you don’t for one moment find this walking, talking bear strange.  He is so realistic that he fits into the real world perfectly and he is fantastically animated.  Wahlberg and Kunis are brilliant despite the odd wonderment of whether a friend-less child could grow up to get the most beautiful woman in the room (of course he could!).
There are quite a few actors in Ted that hail from Family Guy and American Dad (keep an ear out for Patrick Stewart), all of them flawless.

Another thing I loved about this film was the structure.  What I have described is the main plot, but there is another plot running alongside.  This side plot is cleverly written and a wonderful angle that may not have immediately occurred to many (including me).  This makes Ted original and fresh.

Ted is Toy Story for the adult, it is also like a live action Family Guy.  This is a film about growing up, of leaving childhood things behind you but not your friends.  It is a story about love, relationships and family and it is remarkably funny.   It is definitely adults only and if you don’t like Seth McFarlane’s humour then steer clear.  But if you enjoy even the odd bit of Family Guy then you must see this genius film.

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