Sunday, December 16, 2012

Paragraph Movie Reviews: Ted

If you don't have plans to see this movie, you can check the spoilers here and then come back.

I admit that I laughed out loud a few times watching this movie, but not as many times as I feel like I should have. It's a pretty inventive premise--boy wishes for his stuffed animal to come to life, it does, but then both age together and by their mid-30's while they're still best friends the bear is a foul mouthed slacker somewhat hampering his buddy's progression into adulthood--written and directed by a very smart, talented dude in Seth MacFarlane, but the problem is it ultimately seems like he's writing as if it's a TV show and can't break free of that format's restrictions. With a half hour episode of Family Guy (or American Dad or The Cleveland Show), MacFarlane only needs to string together a bare bones plot, because as long as he nails three or four funny lines or visual gags, he can consider it a success given the genre; there's pretty much the same ratio here, where Ted says or does something hysterical every five to ten minutes and the dialogue is full of hilariously quotable lines, but at over an hour and a half, you find yourself wanting something more than an extended sitcom. To try and stretch his plot, MacFarlane digs into kids movie and romantic comedy tropes that you'd hope he'd subvert, but more often than not he sticks to what's expected. The actual living actors aren't given a lot of room to shine either, as the MacFarlane-voiced Ted is clearly the star--a funny one at that, but again, not capable of carrying a whole movie. I credit Mark Wahlberg with how willing he is to throw himself into comedy, but his man child John isn't much more than Ted's straight man. Mila Kunis is a cookie cutter love interest. Joel McHale seems like he's enjoying himself as her sleazy boss, but he's really just playing the same character he always does. Giovanni Ribisi is the only one who really gets to shine as a disturbingly creepy dad obsessed with Ted and wanting to acquire him for his son; he's enough of a weird caricature that he can stand out even in contrast to Ted. Matt Walsh, Patrick Warburton, Laura Vandervoort and others all seem to have supporting characters that could be interesting if they weren't jammed into background scenes and that's all. Again, Ted has flashes of brilliance and if you watch it I wager you'll have a good time and be quoting the best lines, but the more I think on it, the more I see its failings as a transition to film for a very talented TV guy.