Raunchy, intentionally offensive and full of warm fuzzies (including its title character), “Ted” is one of the funniest movies for grownups that’s come along in years.
Director-writer Seth MacFarlane, who has earned cult icon status with his “Family Guy” television series, already has millions of fans. “Ted” very well could earn him millions more.
Admittedly, I went into the movie with a bad attitude. I had seen the trailers showing Ted and John Bennett (Mark Wahlberg) walking along a street without stopping traffic. “If I saw a walking teddy bear in a suit, you better believe I’d stop, and I’d be on the phone to the newsroom in a heartbeat,” I thought.
Well, MacFarlane explains that … and more, often through the voice of Patrick Stewart as the narrator. The tale begins at Christmas time 1985, when young John Bennet, a lonely kid, wishes his new teddy bear was real. Since nothing is more powerful than a boy’s wish (except, as Stewart explains, an Apache helicopter), Ted springs to life, thrilling John and scaring the living daylights out of his parents.
Ted becomes an international sensation, even making an appearance on the “Tonight Show” with Johnny Carson (this is one of the most entertaining moments in the movie). Naturally, his fame fades, although he remains a recognizable entity.
Ted and John grow up together — “thunder buddies” who comfort each other through scary storms. Let me rephrase that: They grow older together, but they really don’t mature. John works in a car rental office, but he’d rather sit around smoking pot with Ted, who has transitioned into a foul-mouthed ne’er-do-well. John’s hapless girlfriend Lori (Mila Kunis) blames John’s immaturity on the constant presence of Ted. She hands Ted an ultimatum: It’s her or the bear.
What happens next is one of the wildest, funniest romps you’ll see this year in a film that simply could not have been made 10 or even five years ago. It’s the believability of the CGI-created Ted that makes the film real, and makes the audience care about all three of the central characters.
Much of the humor is a nod to the 1980s — if you haven’t seen “Flash Gordon” with Sam Jones as the star, it would be a good idea to take a look at it before you see “Ted,” because two of the characters are smitten with it. The jokes are steeped in pop-culture references, so this is a show for right now and not five years from now.
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And isn’t right now when we adults need a good, hearty laugh?
Running time: One hour and 45 minutes
Rated: R for foul language, nudity, sexual situations, violence and drug abuse