'Ted' far from cuddly, occasionally funny

atomictown.comJune 28, 2012 

Clever narration from Star Trek's Patrick Stewart opens Ted.

As a kid, Mark Wahlberg’s John Bennett had no friends. His only friend is a giant stuffed teddy bear. Lonely and almost desperate, John asks the universe to bring his teddy to life. Presto. Ted becomes a walking, talking being.

-- Local show times, theaters, trailer.

He ends up famous and for a few years the bear is a phenom. Ted’s appearance on Johnny Carson’s Tonight Show and articles in publications such as Rolling Stone solidify his fame.

Flash-forward to today. It’s years later, and Ted is a has-been. He and John live with Lori. Ted is pretty crude, smokes pot all the time, is prone to picking up hookers and is generally a very bad influence on John. Lori loves John, but enough is enough. She issues the ultimatum: him or me.

It’s him.

The plot — if you can call it that — follows John, Ted and Lori and how they deal with the break-up and how John has to finally grow up.

Like his successful animated TV contemporaries Matt Stone and Trey Parker, Matt Groening and Mike Judge, Seth MacFarlane felt the need to stretch. TV is so confining. Words beginning in “F” can’t be used, and drug use, naked women and soft-core sex are taboo. So like his counterparts, MacFarlane (The Family Guy, American Dad) found a move to the movies irresistible.

The premise is as stupid as it sounds. It’s funny how a movie about growing up isn’t — itself — very grown up. Ted — however — does work. The skills of Wahlberg, Mila Kunis (Friends with Benefits, Black Swan) and MacFarlane — who voices Ted — and their co-stars, and a decently written script get you to suspend disbelief and actually believe that Ted is a real being.

Nothing in MacFarlane’s movie is laugh-out loud funny, though. A MacFarlane unleashed, and more or less uncensored, feels no need for restraint. So be warned, his movie is very, very crude and — I am loathe to admit — sometimes entertaining. Just not often enough.

Mr. Movie rating: 2 1/2 stars

Director: Seth MacFarlane Stars: Mark Wahlberg, Mila Kunis, Patrick Stewart, Giovanni Ribisi, Patrick Warburton, Nora Jones, Sam J. Jones, Tom Skerritt

Rated R for language, drug use, drinking, sex, partial nudity. It’s playing at Regal’s Columbia Center 8, the Fairchild Cinemas 12 and Walla Walla Grand Cinemas.

5 stars to 4 1/2 stars: Must see on the big screen
4 stars to 3 1/2 stars: Good film, see it if it's your type of movie.
3 stars to 2 1/2 stars: Wait until it comes out on DVD.
2 stars to 1 star: Don't bother.
0 stars: Speaks for itself.

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