A couple weeks ago, Don Rickles caused the magical tubes of the Internet to briefly overheat after telling an off-color joke concerning President Obama and a mop. For Rickles, it was nothing new: That joke has been in his arsenal for at least 40 years. But how could there be outrage? Soft-boiled racism is why you hire Don Rickles.
The same goes for Seth MacFarlane, who has long pushed the envelope on TV with The Family Guy and now has an R-rated movie at his disposal. Do you think it might be a little mean-spirited? Ted is that. And it’s funny and crude and slightly misguided in parts and ultimately not a grand enough concept for a feature film.
MacFarlane voices Ted, a magical teddy bear brought to life by a little boy’s wish for a best friend. But that was 27 years ago and now John (Mark Wahlberg) and the bear are grown up, if not the least bit mature. John slaves away as a lackey at a rental car company while Ted smokes weed all day and solicits whores. John’s girl (Mila Kunis) wants him to finally become a man, but can he leave Ted behind for good?
The funny parts of Ted are astoundingly funny and rapid fire, but they’re surrounded by weird scenes that derail the comedy for too long and a creepy kidnapper subplot featuring the unsettling Giovanni Ribisi. Cut all that out and you’d have a damn funny movie. Of course, you’d also have a 55-minute movie. MacFarlane is used to the sitcom format, so a few lags on the big screen are expected, but after he milks absolutely every drop out of the foul-mouthed teddy bear concept, he just has nowhere else to go.
Given all his practice, it’s hard to believe MacFarlane ran out of insulting things to say about everybody in less than two hours. COLIN BOYD