Shunned as a child, lonely John Bennett makes a wish for his new teddy bear to become real. His wish is granted, and after a brief run of celebrity for the walking-and-talking teddy bear, the world moves on. Now in his mid-30s, John (Mark Wahlberg) still lives with Ted (Seth MacFarlane), only now the two get stoned everyday.
John’s girlfriend Lori (Mila Kunis) is getting a bit fed up after four years of John and Ted’s immaturity, and she pushes for Ted to move out so she and John can make a serious attempt at a life together. Ted moves out and gets a job, and John and Ted both deal with their new lives as best they can… meaning they still see each other daily and get stoned. Oh, and there’s a creepy father-son duo (Giovanni Ribisi and Aedin Mincks, respectively) who want to buy Ted from John, and Lori’s boss (Joel McHale) is a douchebag who always hits on her.
If you’re expecting a live-action Family Guy, you’ll be somewhat disappointed. While the basic twist of the film, a teddy bear being alive and operating in the world like any other living person, could be considered in the same vein as Family Guy, for the most part Ted seeks to tell a familiar story for adult comedies: manchild needs to mature and make a real effort in his life, or he’ll lose the far-too-good-for-him and responsible better half. And again, save the teddy bear thing, the film plays that manchild storyline to its routine and unexceptional end.
Moments of absurdity exist, but nothing to the extent of what you’d see in Family Guy. Seth MacFarlane seemed to aim at making a comedy that we’d all be familiar with, and that’s what we got. Ted could just as easily be swapped out for a slacker roommate or joke-cracking best friend and the film wouldn’t change all that much (well, it’d be less funny; many jokes are only notable because a teddy bear is the one making them).
Mark Wahlberg plays stunted adult male with the best of them, though he does manage to pack it with a heightened level of cluelessness and innocence that works. Mila Kunis hits all the right (and sometimes annoying and shrill) notes as the girlfriend who is waiting for her man to finally wake up, and Seth MacFarlane as Ted is… Seth MacFarlane doing another voice. What can I say, the guy is good at what he does so it works.
And not to ruin any cameos, but geeky children of the 1980s will find some fun waiting for them in this flick. One cameo in particular is worth the price of admittance. I probably gave the film more love for its characters’ shared adoration of some of my own beloved cinema, and I’m not afraid to admit that. It needed that novelty, though, lest the film begin to become boring in its predictability.
In the end, Ted isn’t as funny as the best episodes of Family Guy, but it comes nowhere near its worst (for those of you, like me, who were using Family Guy as your touchstone for what to expect). The film really is on par with most adult comedies nowadays, which is to say that sometimes it’s raunchy, sometimes offensive, sometimes fun and sometimes the jokes don’t hit at all. Unfortunately this puts it in the mediocre middle; not exceptional, but not horrible.