Monday, August 20, 2012


Some people find Seth MacFarlane's humor very off-putting. His mix of puns involving popular-culture, politically incorrect depictions of race/gender/age, uncomfortably raunchy moments, and all-around vulgar humor has defined not one, but three half-hour animated network primetime comedies. Due to the success of those programs as well as the fact that the longest running show (Family Guy) is entering its eleventh season, MacFarlane has become pretty self-indulgent at times. Something that is only natural with a lot of authored visual media. I've found a middle ground with a lot of what he puts on television as a good episode of Family Guy has me laughing uncontrollably, while a bad one has me opening another window on my computer to see what is new on Facebook.

Surprisingly, with his feature-film debut, Ted, MacFarlane's voice feels fresh. He is present as the writer with a hilarious screenplay with well-written if slightly predictable character and story development. He is present as the voice-actor as he gives Ted this perfectly Bostonian potty mouth to match lead actor Mark Wahlberg's own voice. Finally, he is present as the first time director as he lets his actors commit to the role, gives the camera a lot of space and breathing room, and still comes to each scene with fresh ideas about what he could do with the story on the screen in every aspect.

Maybe this praise will sound ridiculously high to some, but this is clearly the better of the comedy films I've seen this summer. The jokes build in a ridiculous manner and they are only more believable because of the casting. Mark Wahlberg, Mila Kunis, and co. really dive into the nature of the film and treat the story as serious and believable as they should. MacFarlane only enhances the film with appropriately wide cinematography, which helps to capture the CGI visual effects that never treats Ted the bear as a prop, but as a character. Ted appears agile while still having the qualities of Winnie the Pooh, but it's the bear's dialogue that really comes as a great enjoyment.

The occasional joke will miss or not hit as strong as the others with the story entering some relatively standard territory of the "idiot man-child" character arc, but MacFarlane includes enough genuine moments as well as over-the-top laughs to make the film be one of the better surprises of the summer.

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