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Screens & Tech

'Ted' jokes hit and miss, but Seth MacFarlane devotees won't mind one bit

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Leave it to the hysterically twisted and juvenile mind of Seth MacFarlane to turn something as cuddly and lovable as a childhood stuffed animal into a perverted, profane pothead.

Ted, a live-action/animated comedy, is the first feature film the Family Guy creator has ever written or directed since introducing us to the Griffin family in 1999. It's no surprise, since MacFarlane — who lends his voice to the title plush toy —  is never afraid to push the envelope before dousing it with gasoline and lighting a match. Sure, on TV there are always restrictions, but the hard R rating this movie has been slapped with clearly proves to fans of MacFarlane's bawdy humor that the guy who once insinuated the rape of a teddy bear on his hit cartoon is devoid of internal censor. This teddy isn't exactly the tea-party-playing type. Tea-bagging more like it.

Despite some of the jokes not sticking their landing, Ted has more hits than misses when you add them all up. Playing it straight (per usual), Mark Wahlberg (The Other Guys) stars as John Bennett, an unmotivated rental car employee living in Boston with his successful girlfriend (Mila Kunis) and the teddy bear he wished alive as a young boy one magical Christmas evening. Now grown and still inseparable, John and Ted must come to terms with living separately and not spending as much time together so John can get his life together. It's a theme we've witnessed before in films like The 40-Year-Old Virgin and Toy Story 3 (becoming a man means putting aside childish things), but now with a few more dick references.

Along with MacFarlane's usual vulgarities, random flashbacks, and low-blow swipes at celebrities (heads up Katy Perry and Brandon Routh), the second half of Ted is sweeter than one would expect, even with a creepy Giovanni Ribisi gyrating and stealing scenes. It's not necessarily a sign of maturity for MacFarlane, but at least he seems to understand a feature film needs more substance than a 30-minute TV show can provide. And with that, his legion of followers will continue to anticipate a Family Guy movie someday and — with his ever-growing fondness for bears — MacFarlane will describe for them exactly what a Dirty Fozzie really is.



★★★ (out of 5 stars)

Dir. Seth MacFarlane; writ. Seth MacFarlane, Alec Sulkin, Wellesley Wild; feat. Mark Wahlberg, Mila Kunis, Seth MacFarlane, Joel McHale, Giovanni Ribisi, Patrick Warburton, Matt Walsh (R)

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