If Mark Wahlberg was dead-set on exaggerating and recycling his Boston accent from The Fighter, I'm glad it was for this movie where he co-stars with a raunchy teddy bear. Ted was better than a two-hour episode of Family Guy because it was constantly hilarious, didn't stray too far from the moment, and had a charming, gooey center. At times I laughed so hard I was afraid I would bust a capillary somewhere.
Minutes into the film I remembered how good Wahlberg was in I Heart Huckabees. When he plays sincere, slightly dumb and a little racist, I totally buy it and want to put him in my pocket. Those words describe the movie pretty well too, and especially the stuffed animal. Ted is voiced by Seth MacFarlane, and he comes to life after 8-year-old John (Wahlberg) makes a wish for he and his teddy bear to be real best friends (the voiceover interjects to tell you that there's nothing more powerful than the wish of a child, except for an Apache helicopter. If you find that funny, I have high hopes for you making it through this film).
The teddy bear comes to life and grows up alongside John--although John is the big softie. The world knows he exists and can talk, and eventually don't care. Together they smoke pot, know an entire catalog of white trash girls' names, and are general wastes of space. John has a hot girlfriend Lori (Mila Kunis) and Ted is just sort of…there. In the middle. And as Lori starts demanding John become more of a grownup (like women in these comedies always do), it becomes more and more evident that Ted is what's holding him back. So, it's your typical "woman forces man to kick his talking stuffed animal to the curb" story. Although the plot is an old classic, the details are not, and that was enough to keep me interested from start to finish.
You can tell the film was written by the same twisted mind that came up with endless seasons of the animated show that will not go away, Family Guy. It has a similar rhythm with the same flashback cutaways, and the same controversial, off-color humor that has kept TV censors on their toes for 10 seasons. Normally I don't make watching the show a habit (if you've seen one, you've seen them all), but I admire MacFarlane's uncompromising style. Compared to the bland, regurgitated nonsense of American Reunion (whose R rating I couldn't see any reason for), this one seems like an R-rated masterpiece complete with C-bombs and hookers. At least it has a point of view and actual voice. Also, the lack of ambiguity about whether the teddy bear is really talking or not (as opposed to Stewie Griffin) makes it easy to focus on the jokes instead of the possibilities.
There are only a couple of moments that took me out of the warped magic of the film when MacFarlane gets self-referential. Other than that, the CG is shockingly good (like when Ted meets Johnny Carson--how did they do that?!) and the script stays buoyant. Plus, you get to see Giovanni Ribisi dance, which is enough to get me back for a second viewing. Ted is the kind of bear who would wipe the floor with that Beaver puppet from last year's Mel Gibson movie.