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July 1, 2013

7

Ted

by Franz Patrick


Ted (2012)
★ / ★★★★

If I had to name one thing I especially liked about “Ted,” based on the screenplay by Seth MacFarlane, Alec Sulkin, and Wellesley Wild, it is the surprising move that not one scene is dedicated to keeping the bear–human in every way that it is able to speak, move around, and has self-awareness–a secret from anyone. However, the creativity stops there. The majority of the film is a tired plot surrounding Ted’s thirty-five-year-old owner, John (Mark Wahlberg), and his inability to act like an adult. Since the film is juvenile from start to finish, the jokes–more foul-mouthed than inspired–quickly grow tiresome.

The script targets everybody: racial minorities, gays, people who carry extra weight, forgotten celebrities, celebrities best forgotten as soon as possible, the rich, rape survivors. The fact that they are offensive or are politically incorrect is not the problem. On the contrary, a few lines are clever, but they seem to almost always occur outside the scope of a scene. When a joke draws attention on itself too much, it does not work. Instead, it comes off self-serving and trying too hard to sound smart or witty. What we have here is not a movie but a sketch comedy with one running gag–a teddy bear that behaves badly–and everything else is barely cobbled together.

Let us take the romance between John and Lori (Mila Kunis), his girlfriend of four years. It is mercilessly repetitive: John fails to provide what Lori needs, simple things like a little bit of maturity and respect, Lori expresses her disappointment, John tells her, “I love you” in every way, shape, and form, they start over, and the cycle continues. It stops only when it is convenient for the plot. In other words, when many minutes have trickled away and it is time to get into the syrupy business of John having to choose between his best friend and a potential partner in life.

Here’s a litmus test to determine if a gimmick is simply in a movie to serve as flowery wallpaper: take it away or make a substitution and see if there is a significant change. I argue that if Ted had been a human being, we would still sit through yet another bad movie about a man-child with nothing new or interesting to say about what it means to have an obsessive attachment to a person or thing.

In reality, there is a difference between being childish and being childlike and it is a shame that the screenplay does not bother to tackle them head-on. Instead, many people will be lost in the shuffle, faulting the girlfriend for giving her beau too many chances, that maybe she is also a reason why the relationship is the way it is. The way I saw it, Lori is attracted to John because of his childlike tendencies: his directness; when he knows something is important to her, he gives her his undivided attention; he is tender; he makes her laugh. What she can’t stand is his rampant childishness: mainly his lack of ambition, being far too unmotivated, and always being up for hanging out and getting high. But the comedy, especially this type of comedy, should be simpler than psychoanalysis. We have a talking bear! It is not asking too much to actually do something with it.

“Ted,” directed by Seth MacFarlane, has, at best, fifteen minutes of good material. I did laugh out loud but they are far too sporadic. Some of the later sequels of “Child’s Play” which feature Chucky the killer doll offer more humor than this. And those are slasher films.

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7 Comments Post a comment
  1. GaryLee828
    Jul 1 2013

    Pfft, you’re crazy, ain’t no damn “Child’s Play” sequel funnier than this!! This deserves more than a “1”. It’s basically just a live and extended episode of “Family Guy” and the teddy-bear is a sub for Brian. You said yourself it had funny material, so that should give it a “2” at least; you’re giving it the same rating as movies like “The Love Guru” and “Battleship”? So, you think “Ted” is as bad as “The Love Guru”?

    Reply
    • Jul 1 2013

      Gary,

      Yes, it had funny material but I also said they are sporadic. I probably laughed about once every thirty minutes–and that’s being generous. Since you bring up “Family Guy,” yes, I’m a fan and when it’s on (and if I don’t have anything else to do), I may sit down to watch. On average, I laugh about 5 times an episode, each one, as you know, is 30 minutes. Why watch “Ted” when you can watch a much shorter (and funnier) episode… on TV?!

      Also, since you said “Ted” is like a live and extended episode of “Family Guy,” what works in a half-hour cartoon does not necessary work in a full-feature film.

      I have never seen “The Love Guru” or “Battleship” so I can’t comment. =p

      Come on, you gotta admit that the kills in some of the “Child’s Play” sequels are hilarious. While they are a mess, at least they are entertaining. Unlike “Ted,” which just sits there like a lump.

      Reply
      • GaryLee828
        Jul 1 2013

        You watch “Ted” b/c there’s a different dynamic than “Family Guy”. Sure, FG is the better of the two, but “Ted” still had some hilarious moments, and there were many more than just 3 laughs throughout the movie.

        Props for not watching The Love Guru; i only watched it b/c it was on TV one day and I couldn’t believe just who atrocious it was! It was HORRID!!!! I mean the lowest of the low!

        I also didn’t see Battleship, but it’s one of the films you just know sucks! lol.

        I’m not disagreeing you dislike “Ted”. That’s fine. I am just saying that a one-star rating puts it in the same group with other films that are just atrocious. Isn’t that what the one-star ratings are reserved for? The worst of the worst? You dislike “Ted”, but do you have such a strong disdain for it to group it with the worst of the worst? That’s all I’m saying. Your lowest rating should be reserved for the absolute worst of the worst.

        But when you have a 4 star rating it really doesn’t give you much flexibility; 4 stars best of the best. 3 stars is good; 2 stars is ok. 1 star is terrible.

        Seems like there should be one more rating; maybe 2 would be “not good” and 1-star worst of the worst.

        This is why I don’y have a ratings system b/c too many times people’s ratings don’t match their review.

        his one bloggers reviews are so inaccurate I unsubscribed; he would totally trash a film on the review, but then rate it a 2 out of 3. Makes no sense! lol.

        Reply
        • Jul 1 2013

          [Isn’t that what the one-star ratings are reserved for? The worst of the worst? You dislike “Ted”, but do you have such a strong disdain for it to group it with the worst of the worst? That’s all I’m saying. Your lowest rating should be reserved for the absolute worst of the worst.]

          My rating system does not work the way you described above.

          Under the tab “Description,” it works like this:

          ★ Not Worth Seeing
          ★★ Maybe Worth Seeing
          ★★★ Worth Seeing
          ★★★★ A Must-See

          To me, it’s simple: there is no “worst of the worst” or “best of the best” because worsts and bests are vague. My system, on the other hand, is clearer in that it is categorized (or given a star) depending on the movie as is–without relying on questions like “Does this belong with the best of the best? Worst of the worst?” The question is only: Is this movie worth seeing?

          For example, I absolutely believe that “Ted” is “Not Worth Seeing.” Therefore, it is assigned a single star.

          Reply
          • GaryLee828
            Jul 1 2013

            Oh ok, I see what you’re saying – your rating system isn’t a grade. That makes sense then.

            You need to check out the entry I wrote yesterday. I only wrote 3 last month, so you need to give a gander. :) I was wondering if you’re familiar with anything I mention on there.

            Reply
  2. Jul 1 2013

    I like your point about the difference between childish and childlike and how one person can be both.

    Reply

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