This is the first live-action film from Seth MacFarlane (creator of Family Guy and American Dad!, and who is such a big Star Trek fan he even got to be on Enterprise as an engineer, and got the whole main cast of The Next Generation to guest in an episode of Family Guy). A child’s Christmas wish wish brings a teddy bear to life to be his best friend forever. The child grows up to be John Bennett (Mark Whalberg), and the Teddy Bear grows up to be Ted (Seth MacFarlane), who is a foul-mouthed, drinking, smoking, recreational drug-taking layabout.
Maybe this is an odd film to include on a comic-book site, but a viewing of the film soon reveals why I thought to mention it. The film opens in 1985. We see a child’s bedroom with an Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom poster on the wall. We see his Christmas presents, most notable of which is a Darth Vader head which opens up to reveal several Star Wars action figures. It instantly brought to mind my own memeories of my Indy posters and Star Wars and Transformers toys that I had at that age.
Later, in the present day, we see John Bennett’s relationship with the stunning Lori Collins (played by the stunning Mila Kunis) play out like any other on-screen relationship. They get on ok, but he can be insensitive to her needs, and she has to be the responsible one, and she wants him to grow up and take life seriously, etc etc. Just like any other rom-com. Yet throughout this we have Ted providing typical Family Guy-style laughs throughout. At one point Ted even does a Peter Griffin in self-referential or shameless plug comedy. Then the event that totally screws up John and Lori’s relationship comes when he leaves her at her work’s party to rush over to Ted’s place to meet his childhood hero Flash Gordon. This is Sam J. Jones from the 1980′s Queen-soundtracked Flash Gordon film. Sam plays a very funny version of himself, and at one point we see Ted’s asian neighbour appear as Ming the Mercilous, and in a drug-fuelled fantasy scene John is on the back of a sky-bike with Sam Jones in Flash Gordon costume, with Hawkmen riding in formation behind. If you love the 80′s film, there are some great moments to be had in Ted.
The film then starts to get typical, as Ted tries to repair John and Lori’s relationship, as well as avoid a scary collector who wants to abduct him.Later, John is staying in a hotel room after Lori has thrown him out, and we see him reading a classic Tintin in the form of Destination Moon.
Many of the regulars from Seth MacFarlane’s shows pop up in cameos. There’s Patrick Stewart (Bullock in American Dad!), Patrick Warburton (Joe in Family Guy) and Ryan Reynolds (from Family Guy) as well as Mila Kunis of course (Meg from Family Guy).
As for Ted himself, he’s like Brian in Family Guy or Tim the Bear in The Cleveland Show in that everyone just accepts that he’s a talking bear. He does, however, provide many great laughs. The way he tries to fail a job interview by being all-up-in-the-interviewer’s face, only for the interviewer to respect Ted’s gusto and give him the job any way was a highlight.
For the most part this is a typical rom-com, except that in the hands of Seth MacFarlane, the laughs come pretty quick, and we’re treated to many geek references that the casual cinema crowd won’t get. It is what you’d expect from the Family Guy creator, and fortunately does not disappoint.