Monday, 27 August 2012
Seth MacFarlane is a dick. A rich, smug dick. "Family Guy" used to be funny before he got complacent and started churning out half-arsed re-hashes of jokes and even entire shows. I saw the trailer for "Ted" and thought "So Wahlberg's Peter and the Teddy is Brian? Or Wahlberg's Stan and the Teddy's Roger? MacFarlane will be laughing all the way to the bank."
Sometimes I am a reactionary cynic.
"Ted" is a story about a kid who wishes his favourite cuddly toy to life one Christmas. How? That's not important. What's important is that the kid grows into Marky Mark and the bear gets Seth MacFarlane's voice. They remain inseperable buddies until Marky Mark's relationship with the unfathomably gorgeous Mila Kunis threatens to drive them apart.
Wahlberg is a unique actor. Nobody else veers so wildly between brilliance and atrocity as he does. Here, I'm glad to say, he's brilliant. Funny, earnest, amiable and charismatic, he settles into the everyman, nice-guy role with ease and reminds us why we like him even though he used to commit racially aggravated assaults and was in "The Happening".
Mila Kunis is a wonder to behold, but she can do the put-upon girlfriend thing in her sleep, so doesn't really stretch herself here, and then there's Ted. Ted is one of those brilliantly realised CG characters that come along every once in a while to make you think the digital revolution might have all been worthwhile. He's a sarky, snarky, blokey little horror you can't help but warm to.
This is really a story about the constant arrested development in western males. Ted is Marky Mark's inner child made fuzzy flesh. He's the voice that tells you to blow off work to go and get high. He's the adolescent instinct to hang out and watch "Flash Gordon" rather than go to your girlfriend's work party. It's the best use of fantasy as a study of contemporary male friendship since "Shaun of the Dead".
Indulgent critical readings aside, "Ted" is a consistently funny and likable movie which makes me think MacFarlane is wasted on his TV commitments. On the strength of this film, I wouldn't grieve too much if he cancelled "Family Guy" to concentrate on movies. Although, the way that show's been going lately, I wouldn't grieve if he said he was cancelling it to open a haberdashery.
It could be argued that the movie outstays its welcome slightly, and that a subplot which becomes un-sub in the final act is just tacked on to generate some jeopardy, but there's enough wit, absurdity, crass humour, comedy cameos, karaoke and even (shock!) genuine emotion to hold the attention firm. Rather than the tired "Family Guy" rehash I was expecting, MacFarlane has delivered a fully formed film which I expect will be rewatched and quoted for many years to come. Maybe MacFarlane's not such a dick after all...