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Tuesday 30 September 2014

James Dempsey: New film 'Ted' from Family Guy creator is one big joke

Published 03/08/2012 | 12:05

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IF you go down to the multiplex today, you’re sure of there being no surprises.

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Because when it comes down to it,

Ted, the first live action feature film from Family Guy creator Seth MacFarlane, is one fantastic joke stretched extremely thin for 106 minutes.

And yet, it is pointless to point this out, because every male (between the ages of 18 and 35) there ever there was, will gather there for certain because, today’s the day the smutty bear jokes about dick.

As already stated, the premise of Ted is actually rather genius, and that’s what makes the complete lack of originality in its delivery all the more disappointing.

The story, by MacFarlane and Family Guy writers Alec Sulkin and Wellesley Wild, takes the classic Hollywood staple of a man’s personal development derailed by a boorish childhood friend holding him back to a brilliantly subversive level; what if a lonely young boy made a Christmas wish that his teddy bear would come alive, and then what happens 27 years later when they’re all grown up?

Fart jokes, mostly, between bong hits, F-words and repeated references to acts of sexual depravity.

Bizarre non-sequiturs, allusions to pop culture of the 70s and 80s and choice cameos. It’s the story of a man and his sentient non-human companion living the life of Reilly, while his wet-blanket other half (Mila Kunis bumped up from the role of Meg to Lois, only this time named Lori) puts up with it all in the name of love.

Was I expecting something else?

Yes, frankly, I was.

MacFarlane is a shrewd and brilliant satirist who has, across his animated canon of Family Guy, American Dad and The Cleveland Show, lampooned American and, more significantly, entertainment culture in perfect execution.

His writing, voice acting and direction on television have provided moments of surrealism, escapism and hilarity, while continuing to shock and appal audiences with ballsy no-holds-barred humour. This is the man who wrote an episode of Family Guy about its female lead becoming a surrogate mother, then aborting the baby when the biological parents die in a car crash.

Ted, rated 16, thinks it can get by purely by replacing the more audacious aspects of MacFarlane’s animated personae with cursing and sex jokes.

What is initially crude and shockingly rude very quickly becomes crude and shockingly rudimentary, the film following the kind of asinine arc that even 14 year-olds who sneak in will have seen a thousand times before.

Will Mark Wahlberg’s John, the straight man who loves letting Ted get him into trouble, learn a lesson about maturity when his actions knowingly go against the specific agreements he’s made with Lori?

Will there be wildly broad jokes at the expense of racial and sexual stereotypes? Are all the best jokes in the trailer? You betcha.

The film is an overly long episode of Family Guy, and a weaker one at that. What works in animation plods along in live action.

The supporting cast, admittedly with the exception of one fantastic cameo that flashes with retro pastiche, are largely forgotten.

Community’s Joel McHale, a cult star in his own right, barely features as Lori’s lecherous boss and is mostly left flailing about on screen with yet another fart joke.

Much has been written of the fantastic CGI rendering and motion capture performance of Ted – but a puppet would have been easier, and as recently seen in The Muppets, funnier.

That Ted started out as the framework for another animated sitcom should come as no surprise; MacFarlane has cornered the market of man and talking creature comedy since 1999. Stick with the Family Guy boxset instead.

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