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Released 3 August 2012
Director Seth MacFarlane

Mark Wahlberg, Mila Kunis, Seth MacFarlane, Joel McHale, Giovanni Ribisi, Patrick Warburton, Matt Walsh, Jessica Barth

Seth MacFarlane, Alec Sulkin, Wellesley Wild

Seth MacFarlane, Scott Stuber, John Jacobs, Jason Clark, Wellesley Wild
Origin United States
Running Time 106 minutes
Genre Comedy
Rating 16

Bear with me.

As much as he may want to, Seth MacFarlane will probably never escape the shadow of the show which made him famous – Family Guy.

Even Ted, despite being a very different product to the animated show, has plenty of nods to the director’s previous work. Ted (voiced by MacFarlane himself) even jokes at one point, “I do not sound that much like Peter Griffin”. This clever self-referential humour is important, as it highlights how far from his comfort zone MacFarlane has gone.

If anything Ted plays a bit like a demented rom-com. Mark Wahlberg stars as an aimless thirty-something with a beautiful and successful girlfriend (Mila Kunis) who is upset by his lack of ambition. Wahlberg is content to spend his days hanging out with his childhood teddy bear (who came to life as a result of a Christmas wish) drinking, watching cheesy movies from the 1980s and getting high. As you could probably guess, the conflict between Wahlberg’s relationship and his childhood friend soon lead to trouble. The real genius is how closely Ted sticks to a trite, predictable formula, but by doing so satirises the whole genre of romantic comedy with its ridiculous high concept.

The entire cast play their roles perfectly straight, and never does the fact that they are interacting with a CGI teddy bear ever seem out of place. Wahlberg is well cast as the straight half of the buddy-comedy duo. Where he struggles to inhabit the lead in an action film he is perfectly suited to playing the slacker with big dreams, and the fact that he swears almost as much as his character from The Departed makes this one of his better roles. Equally strong is Giovanni Ribisi in a small but memorable appearance as the film’s creepy villain.

The real success is that Ted has something not many episodes of Family Guy ever did – a coherent plot as opposed to a collection of barely linked sketches and pop culture references. While Ted frequently descends into farce – a cameo appearance by Sam Jones (of Flash Gordon fame) provides an excuse for plenty of cartoonish slapstick – it never loses sight of a bigger picture.

Ted isn’t just a 108 minute episode of Family Guy (or American Dad/the Cleveland Show) – it’s a lot better than that. The jokes tread the perfect line between hilarious and offensively un-PC, and manage the almost impossible task of getting plenty of guilty laughs out of the audience without ever going too far. Ted is raunchy, crude and vulgar, but with a certain wit that keeps it from overstepping its bounds.

I’m no fan of Family Guy, but Ted is a genuinely sharp comedy which makes the most of its high concept.

- Bernard O’Rourke