July 5, 2012
The film “Ted” asks “what if” a child’s imaginary friend came to life, but rather than benevolent and comforting, the friend turns out to be a bad influence?
That’s precisely what happens when lonely 8-year-old John Bennett’s wish upon a star brings “Ted,” his stuffed Teddy Bear, magically to life. Among their first interactions, Ted and John promise to remain BFFs.
Ted’s sudden animation brings the Teddy Bear fame, though strangely, no one is interested in the little boy whose wish gave life to the plush toy, not even the United States government. A bit of movie-magic depicts Ted appearing on “The Tonight Show” with Johnny Carson, but why no fortune accompanies Ted’s uniquely alive condition, baffles me, as does the notion that America, Europe and the cute-creature-crazed Japanese of “Hello Kitty,” could possibly forget Ted after just a few short months.
Years later, 35-year-old John works as a car-rental agent, spending his free time watching bad TV and getting stoned with Ted.
Despite his underachiever’s lifestyle, John is in the fourth year of a live-in romance with Lori (Mila Kunis), a beautiful woman possessing both a good job and an easy laugh. Lori and John share their apartment with Ted, whose party lifestyle becomes a health hazard when a hooker takes a dump in John and Lori’s living room while playing “Truth or Dare” with Ted.
Declaring that John will never grow up as long as Ted lives with them, Lori demands that John cut the cord to his Teddy Bear. To keep Lori in his life, John dutifully helps Ted to move out and get a job as a grocery store checker – a job Ted somehow performs without fingers. And while he lacks a certain male appendage, and needs deep cleaning, Ted soon acquires his own beautiful, brainless girlfriend.
Since he’s smarter than John, Ted manipulates his friend into disappointing Lori one too many times, finally causing John to swear off Ted for good.
Naturally, their bromance is stronger than it appears, as we learn in a final twist that puts Ted and Lori in touch with their bear-humanity.
Seth MacFarlane, creator of television’s “Family Guy,” wrote and directed this feature film while also voicing Ted. His insistence that Ted behave like just another immature loser, wears thin, and strips the film of whatever magic aura was created by bringing Ted to life.
The consistently vulgar humor attempts to fill a comedic deficit with a gooey sweetness that caused the popcorn to stick in my throat.