What it's about:

As a lonely young boy, John Bennet's (Mark Wahlberg) wish to have his Teddy bear, Ted, come to life was magically granted and the two have been inseparable ever since. Now, with John well into his thirties and in a long-term relationship with Lori (Mila Kunis) he is faced with a life-changing decision: Embrace adulthood and his life with Lori or continue his arrested adolescence partying and lounging about with Ted. What's a guy to do? 

What we thought:

Right off the bat, Ted has a premise that simply doesn't work. No, not the idea of a talking Teddy bear: That is surprisingly easy to buy into. What really beggars belief though, is this certifiably insane idea that any straight male would rather spend their time with a Teddy bear, talking or otherwise, than with Mila Kunis. As far as great moral dilemmas go, we're not exactly talking Sophie's Choice here and it certainly isn't something on which one would want to hang the plot of an entire film. And yet, here we are.

Backing up a step or two, Ted is the feature film debut of Seth MacFarlane, the creator of cult animated comedy series Family Guy and American Dad. He directed it and co-wrote it and, if you know anything at all about his TV shows, you'll be able to guess where – aside for the whole Mila/stuffed bear débâcle, of course – the film's major fault lies.

Regardless of whether you find them funny, no one in their right mind would deny that storytelling is not exactly at the forefront of American Dad and Family Guy. Both shows use their meagre plots and characterisation as little more than an excuse for MacFarlane to tell whatever pop-culture-related or political jokes he has on his mind in any particular week. Family Guy is essentially the ant-Seinfeld in that, while Seinfeld's humour came directly from the distinctly drawn characters and meticulous plotting, Family Guy's humour exists almost independently to the rest of the show. 

Sadly, MacFarlane's branching out to a new media does not bring with it an all new skill set. Simply put, as a piece of storytelling, Ted is a dud on every level. It's predictable, clichéd, badly paced and is every bit as innovative and original as your average Hollywood romcom hackwork. If it weren't for the presence of its incredibly likeable leads, Mila Kunis and Mark Wahlberg, Ted would be a total write off on this most basic of levels.

The good news then, and the reason why Ted pretty easily earns its place in your local cinema, is that even if MacFarlane's abilities as a storyteller has shown no signs whatsoever of improving, his ability to tell a joke has never been better. The whole film is built around a single gag, but it's a gag that pays off again and again and again and, completely despite itself, gets funnier and funnier as the film goes along.

There is no logical reason why a foul-mouthed stuffed animal should be this funny and yet, every single time that stupid little teddy bear opens its mouth, it is all but impossible to keep a straight face. And the dirtier the better. It's one thing having a talking Teddy bear cracking wise about Republicans and Susan Boyle, it's quite another to hear and see this ultimate symbol of childhood talk and act in ways so depraved as to make Team America: World Police blush. 

Ted – and, by extension, as the voice of Ted, MacFarlane himself – may get most of the best laughs, but MacFarlane is generous enough to leave at least something for the rest of  a cast that includes proven comedic talents like Joel McHale (Community, The Soup) and Mark Wahlberg. Also look out for a surprisingly hilarious cameo from a typically wonderful Norah Jones playing solidly against type and some laugh-out-loud hilarious narration from Patrick Stewart who sets the tone of the film perfectly with an ingenious mix of the sardonic and the storybook. Only Mila Kunis gets short thrift in the laughs department, but at least she remains perfectly likeable and reasonable in what is essentially a "party-pooper" role.   

Kudos then to Seth MacFarlane for making a comedy that is truly funny – or at least truly funny for those of us who can appreciate so childish, so cheap and yet so effective a device as having a beloved children's toy behave very, very badly indeed – which is no small feat when you consider some of the fare that gets passed off as "comedies" these days . Now, if only he brought someone along who could actually tell a story – then we'd really be onto something!

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