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dir Seth MacFarlane
scr Seth MacFarlane, Alec Sulkin, Wellesley Wild
prd Jason Clark, John Jacobs, Seth MacFarlane, Scott Stuber, Wellesley Wild
with Mark Wahlberg, Mila Kunis, Seth MacFarlane, Joel McHale, Giovanni Ribisi, Patrick Warburton, Matt Walsh, Jessica Barth, Sam Jones, Norah Jones, Ryan Reynolds, Patrick Stewart
release US 29.Jun.12, UK 1.Aug.12
12/US Universal 1h46
Thunder buddies: Ted and Wahlberg
|R E V I E W B Y R I C H C L I N E|
Plying his trade in pop culture references and surprising punchlines, MacFarlane jumps the adult-oriented comedy bandwagon with a film that's smarter and funnier than most. It also has a surprisingly warm and serious thematic undercurrent.
After a childhood wish brought his teddy bear to life, John (Wahlberg) has become inseparable with his buddy Ted (voiced by Macfarlane). But John's girlfriend Lori (Kunis) is starting to think that a 35-year-old man and his fluffy pal should stop living like stoner-slackers. Worried about the foul-mouthed, womanising Ted's influence, she encourages John to make his own way in life, so they can be a proper couple. But separating Ted and John is more difficult than it looks.
The effects that bring Ted to life are so seamless that we accept him as a character right from the start. It helps that MacFarlane gives him such a riotous personality, always doing and saying the wrong thing as he lures John into yet another compromising situation. Together, they're like fanboys who have refused to grow up, peppering scenes with references to Flash Gordon, Star Wars, Indiana Jones and Knight Rider plus pointed nods to Cheers, Airplane! and, ahem, the Muppets.
But this is more than just another story of a man who refuses to leave his childhood behind. There's actually a rather sophisticated plot underlying the comedy mayhem, recognising that growing up isn't about putting your childhood behind you but rather integrating curiosity, silliness and loyalty into your adult life. Wahlberg and Kunis play to these themes sharply, creating engaging characters who sometimes do stupid things but remain grounded in real life. The cast around them (including several terrific cameos) is mainly comedy fodder.
Where the film falters is in its insistence on a bit of action chaos to resolve everything. We meet Ted's deranged stalker (Ribisi) early in the film, so it's pretty obvious where this is going. But it's much less interesting than Ted's twisted relationships with the likes of bimbo Tami-Lynne (Barth) and singer Nora Jones. And while we laugh at the audacity of the rude humour, it's the underlying resonance of the characters that makes the film thoroughly endearing.
|R E A D E R R E V I E W S|
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© 2012 by Rich Cline, Shadows on the Wall|
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