You have to wonder if Seth MacFarlane ever has time to sleep. The man has built himself an animation empire at Fox as the creator of “Family Guy,” “American Dad,” and “The Cleveland Show.” He writes, produces, and does numerous voices on each show. Fox even put him in charge of developing a new version of “The Flintstones” to add to their line-up. MacFarlane has hosted several Comedy Central roasts, “Saturday Night Live,” and will also host the upcoming Oscars. Somehow, his busy schedule didn’t prevent him from writing and directing his first feature film, “Ted,” which went on to become the highest grossing R-rated comedy of all time.
The story begins on Christmas in Boston when a lonely boy named John Bennett (Bretton Manley) wishes that his new teddy bear would come to life. Miraculously, the wish comes true and the two become the best of friends. Decades later, John (Mark Wahlberg) is now 35 and working a lousy job at a car rental agency. The bear, Ted (MacFarlane), is still around and the two have become typical Boston meatheads content to drink beer, smoke pot, and watch “Flash Gordon.” John’s exasperated girlfriend, Lori (Mila Kunis), knows John will never truly grow up so long as Ted is around. Lori finally demands Ted leave when she returns to their apartment to find him carousing with a bunch of hookers. John must now find a way to balance his relationships with Ted and Lori while the bear fends for himself in the real world.
“Ted” has all the hallmarks of a Seth MacFarlane production. It is littered with profane humor and random celebrity cameos from the likes of Ryan Reynolds, Norah Jones, and Tom Skerritt. Flash Gordon himself, Sam J. Jones, makes an appearance as he riotously parties with the hero worshipping protagonists. Most importantly, “Ted” features a plethora of pop culture references fired off with machine gun precision. MacFarlane’s cannibalization of pop culture can be summed up by a parody of the “Airplane!” parody of “Saturday Night Fever.” Characters riff on everything from “Diff’rent Strokes” to Hootie and the Blowfish. Oddly enough, these gags work better than jabs at more timely targets such as Adam Sandler’s “Jack and Jill” or one-time Superman Brandon Routh.
MacFarlane comfortably surrounded with familiar faces. He co-wrote the script with fellow “Family Guy” writers, Alec Sulkin and Wellesley Wild, while the score was done by Walter Murphy, who also composed the “Family Guy” theme song. Patrick Stewart does voiceover narration, Alex Borstein has a supporting role as John’s mom, and Patrick Warburton appears as one of John’s co-workers. Mila Kunis, the voice of Meg Griffin, brings charm and wit to the usually thankless role of the nagging girlfriend. Giovanni Ribisi has an over-the-top turn as an obsessed fan determined to purchase Ted for his creepy kid.
The entire movie hinges on the friendship between John and Ted. Both Wahlberg and MacFarlane deliver the goods. Wahlberg hasn’t much luck at straight dramatic roles as evidenced by his shaky performances in “The Lovely Bones” and “The Happening.” He’s also done so many C-grade action films that it’s easy to forget how talented he is as a comedic actor. He’s hilarious in “Ted,” especially in a scene where he rapidly lists the names of white trash girls. Wahlberg also gets to show off a flair for physical humor when he throws down with Ted. Speaking of the bear, the CGI is excellent with Ted seamlessly blended in with flesh and blood actors. MacFarlane not only did the voice, but the motion capture on set while directing. In another MacFarlane trademark, everyone simply accepts the existence of a talking teddy bear without once raising an eyebrow.
The video is presented in 1080p with an aspect ratio of 1.85:1. The transfer is bright and bold, matching the zippy energy of the film. Skin tones are natural and colors pop throughout the picture.
The audio is presented in DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1. The sound is lively though it mainly subsists through the front and center channels. Dialogue is crisp and clear
The Blu-ray includes an audio commentary over the theatrical version with Seth MacFarlane, Alec Sulkin, and Mark Wahlberg who leaves about half an hour into the picture. When they’re not busting each others’ chops, the participants share on-set anecdotes and secrets behind the special effects.
The Making of Ted (24:42) takes us behind-the-scenes to watch the creation of Ted through motion capture and CGI along with how much fun everyone had on set.
Teddy Bear Scuffle (5:38) is a closer look at the fight scene in which Mark Wahlberg essentially had to tussle with himself.
Also included are a collection of deleted scenes, alternate takes, and a gag reel. Released as a combo pack, the Blu-ray also includes a DVD, Digital Copy, and Ultraviolet versions of the film.
Are people going to find “Ted” offensive and juvenile? Certainly and it’s hard to argue the point when you see a talking teddy bear spray lotion on his face while acting like it’s semen. Seth MacFarlane relishes journeying into R-rated territory in a manner he cannot on television and finds a unique take on the buddy comedy.