The Dark Knight Rises was an awesome movie. No question. Not exactly fun, though. More laughs than an Adam Sandler movie, obviously, but still, pretty straight-faced stuff. What I needed this week, was a laugh. What I needed, was…
A riotous celebration of friendship, immaturity and the joys of making fun of stuff, Seth MacFarlane’s Ted is exactly the debut feature you’d expect from the guy who gave the world Family Guy. Rude, crude and peppered with farts, foul-language and so many affectionate Eighties references, I almost forgot how badly that decade actually sucked, it’s a polished, quickfire comedy with a healthy gag-to-laugh ratio.
Delivered in the Family Guy style, by which I mean utterly unrestrained, eager to appal, loaded with surreal, parodic flashbacks and chock-full-o-cameos, Ted is equal opportunity offensive, targeting every race, religion and sexual orientation without fear or favour. Also, fat kids, sick kids and dying kids, dead celebrities, hasbeens and, of course, women.
Although the plot appears to mirror The Muppets, the tone is rather different. Unless I missed the scene where Fozzie encourages a prostitute to poo on his living room carpet.
Having proved his comedy chops opposite Will Ferrell in The Other Guys, Mark Wahlberg is splendid in the lead as thirtysomething slacker John, an affable stoner with a dead-end job and long-suffering girlfriend (Mila Kunis). As a lonely child who even the Jewish kids wouldn’t play with, when John was eight he made a magical Christmas wish that his beloved teddy bear would come to life. Which it did. And the two have been inseparable ever since.
Three decades on and the Yoko in the room wants John to grow up. Which means no more cocaine-fuelled parties with whoremonger Ted, who’s the best bud a guy could have, but also something of a bad influence. A tale of development not so much arrested then, as imprisoned with serial rapists and beaten daily with bars of soap wrapped in towels, Ted is lots of fun. Not for everyone, mind, but many more than enough of us to justify its existence.
Key to the movie’s success is the enviable rapport John shares with Ted, a credible C.G. creation with the silky tones of director and co-scribe MacFarlane, who populates the cast with many of his Family Guy compadres, among them Kunis (Meg), Patrick Warburton (Joe) and Alex Borstein (Lois).
Rounding things off, Community’s Joel McHale and Hollywood oddball Giovanni Ribisi add additional colour, while iconic blond movie god Sam J. Jones plays a twisted version of himself who is so damn awesome in this, I would happily snip off a finger just to go party with him. Because if you strip Ted down to its bear essentials, mostly it’s about a couple of guys who love legendary Eighties’ adventure Flash Gordon as much as they do one another. And that, surely, everyone can relate to.