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Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Ted

TED

** SPOILERS **

Ted starts off so promisingly, with a flashback to a snowy Boston Christmas in 1985 narrated by a foul-mouthed Patrick Stewart. Young outcast Mark Wahlberg receives a teddy bear and makes a magic wish that his bear would come alive and be his best friend. It does, and Ted, the living talking teddy bear voiced by writer-director Seth MacFarlane, becomes a pop culture phenomenon, even appearing on The Tonight Show with Johnny Carson. The concept of a living teddy bear becoming famous is an intriguing one. But then Ted jumps forward to present day to an adult Wahlberg, stunted in arrested development, still co-dependent on Ted, who is now a drunken, pot-smoking burnout, and the magic of Ted is immediately, irrevocably lost. Ted immediately settles into a bland, conventional rom-com plot where Wahlberg, in a relationship with Mila Kunis, has to learn to grow up and be a man who isn't emotionally clinging to his talking teddy bear. At her urging, Wahlberg kicks Ted out of the affluent Boston apartment he can't possibly afford on his salary working for a rental car lot. Ted relocates to a Chinatown tenement and starts working at a supermarket check out. Meanwhile, Kunis' sleazy boss Joel McHale, makes a play for her hand romantically and I'm bored just describing this lurching, eye-roll-inducing plot. If Ted and Ted were as raunchy and funny as promised, the paint by numbers plotting wouldn't matter, but outside of a few fleeting funny lines, Ted is oddly limp on actual comedy. Instead, Ted is a showcase for MacFarlane's idiosyncratic 1980s pop culture fetishes, from the theme from Octopussy that Wahlberg sings badly at the Hatch Shell (a scene were I was an extra in the crowd), to a parody of the dancing scene in Airplane!, and especially the camp classic Flash Gordon, complete with Flash himself, Sam J. Jones, in a cameo that well-past overstays his welcome. The blatant fellating of Flash Gordon throughout Ted goes way overboard, and I'm a guy who is also a lifelong fan of that wonderfully terrible movie Flash Gordon. There's also a grating subplot where Giovanni Ribisi wants to kidnap Ted and give him to his fat son that just pads the running time, giving an excuse for a car chase through Boston (with questionable geography where the Southeast Expressway suddenly exits into the Fenway area) and an action finale in Fenway Park. Ted "dies" at the end, which would at least have been a ballsy finish, but Ted chickens out of that to give Wahlberg and Ted a "happy" ending. Ted somehow has sex with numerous women in the movie, including Norah Jones, despite having no genitals. Like Ted the bear, Ted the movie has no balls.

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