One of the highest-grossing R-rated comedies of all time, Seth MacFarlane’s directorial debut Ted not only scored with audiences (its worldwide box office haul was just north of $500 million) but was also reasonably well-received by critics. Ted is now on Blu-ray in its theatrical form as well as an unrated cut that runs seven minutes longer. For my money, the litmus test for any comedy is—did I laugh out loud? The answer here is yes, but not as often as I would’ve liked.
Ted’s title character is a stuffed teddy bear that miraculously came to life when young outcast John Bennett (Bretton Manley) wished for a friend. Ted is voiced by MacFarlane, who does little to distinguish that voice from his Family Guy character, Peter Griffin. There’s even a meta-joke thrown in for good measure, lest anyone think MacFarlane himself wasn’t aware. The adult John (Mark Wahlberg) has not only remained friends with the talking bear, his life is totally stunted because of it. The pair waste hours getting high and rewatching the 1980 Flash Gordon movie. Ted was a celebrity early on (appearing on The Tonight Show and such), but society ended up accepting him for what he is and stopped paying attention. John’s girlfriend Lori (Mila Kunis) has grown very tired of the John and Ted’s lifestyle, longing for a marriage proposal from John.
Essentially Ted is another flick about a couple of adults who live their lives as overgrown teenagers, wallowing in the trappings of their youth. The exception, of course, is that one of the adults is a plush toy. But you could easily replace the digitally-animated bear with a normal actor without changing the substance of the film. The novelty of seeing a boozing, pot smoking, foul-mouthed teddy bear wears thin over the course of a feature-length film. The best gags have little to do with the bear, including several very funny cameos that I won’t spoil by identifying here. Joel McHale has a number of funny moments as Lori’s lecherous boss Rex. Giovanni Ribisi and Aedin Mincks are effective as a father and son obsessed with Ted, intent on gaining ownership of him.