You're Better Off Without Ted
- Christa Banister Crosswalk.com Contributing Writer
- 2012 29 Jun
DVD Release Date: December 11, 2012
Theatrical Release Date: June 29, 2012
Rating: R (for crude and sexual content, pervasive language, and some drug use)
Run Time: 106 min.
Director: Seth MacFarlane
Cast: Mark Wahlberg, Mila Kunis, Seth MacFarlane, Joel McHale, Giovanni Ribisi, Norah Jones, Ryan Reynolds, Patrick Warbuton
EDITOR’S NOTE: The following review contains discussion of mature subject matter. Parents please be advised.
Just when you think movies can’t possibly get any dumber, Hollywood goes and outdoes itself.
Case in point, Ted, the story of a 35-year-old slacker named John (Mark Wahlberg, Contraband) who, much to the chagrin of his successful girlfriend, refuses to part company with his bong-smoking best friend, Ted, a talking teddy bear.
Yeah, can’t you just picture the studio executives debating the merits of that particular storyline in a boardroom?
Even sadder, perhaps, is that whatever was said apparently worked because Seth MacFarlane (TV’s The Family Guy) was finally given the freedom to stretch the boundaries of good taste without any pesky television censors getting in the way.
In what’s essentially a bawdy object lesson in being careful what you wish for, the movie opens with the nine-year-old version of John, a gawky kid who wants nothing more than a friend to call his own. And since it’s Christmas, that magical time of year where kids often believe that anything is possible, John shoots for the moon. Since Ted is the only “friend” who has never let him down, he decides life would be even better if Ted was his living, breathing pal instead of a stuffed bear.
Cue the requisite Christmas miracle.
In the beginning, Ted actually makes a pretty good companion for a lonely kid like John. But when Ted enters adolescence and beyond, well, let’s just say he takes a turn for the vulgar. Now John’s partner in slackerdom, the twosome still spends practically every waking moment together, save for the few hours John clocks in at the local rental car company he works for. And when John’s not on the clock, their regular routine consists of playing video games, smoking pot, entertaining women of questionable morals, and of course, talking about sex in the crassest possible fashion.
If that wasn’t already enough male wish fulfillment for a guy in a state of perpetual arrested development, John has not only acquired the muscle-y brawn of the man formerly known as Marky Mark, but he’s also landed a girl who’s clearly out of his league to boot. In a relationship that belies all reason, Lori (Mila Kunis, Friends with Benefits) has put up with John’s immature shenanigans for almost four years now.
But on their actual anniversary of dating for the equivalent of an undergrad college experience, Lori suddenly wises up when she’s presented some bargain bin earrings instead of the engagement ring she was expecting. Questioning whether she and John actually have a future together (uh, no), Lori eventually issues him an ultimatum: Ditch the bear or kiss their relationship goodbye.
While anyone with even a shred of self respect wouldn’t be in this position to begin with, you can’t drag out a five-minute plot for just shy of two hours without some filler, right? So in addition to this gripping dilemma with John and Lori, we’ve got a subplot involving an obsessive Ted fan (yeah, he’s a bit of a celebrity, naturally) who’s dead set on stealing him from John, another shred of a story where Lori’s smarmy boss (Joel McHale, TV’s Community) makes inappropriate advances toward her and a slew of jokes that totally scrape the bottom of the barrel for a laugh.
Really, the only thing more curious than why this drivel was green-lighted in the first place was that Norah Jones (yes, the GRAMMY Award-winning singer who made smooth jazz more than a punchline) decided to join in the ridiculousness. While the inclusion of her performing one of her hits was quite possibly the classiest thing about this whole torrid affair, hearing her say she wishes she’d slept with Ted again was just plain icky.
Incidentally, that’s pretty much the perfect word to describe what goes down in Ted. It’s exactly what a great summer movie shouldn’t be—positively icky to the core.
- Drugs/Alcohol: Social drinking, sometimes to the point of drunkenness, depicted. While the rating says “some drug use,” there are actually several scenes where drugs are used with abandon (and yes, Ted himself is the worst offender.)
- Language/Profanity: The full range of profanity, particularly the “f” word, is used consistently. God and Jesus’s names are also misused on several occasions, and there is plenty of rude, scatological humor throughout.
- Sex/Nudity: Sex is frequently discussed in the crudest way possible, and there are numerous double entendres, cheap jokes at the expense of homosexuals and offensive references to male and female genitalia. Ted has sex with a co-worker on several occasions and talks about using a parsnip since he lacks the proper anatomy. A woman is shown topless at a party (Ted drew Garfield’s face on her breasts). Ted grabs a woman’s breast. In another scene, Ted suggestively sucks on a chocolate bar like he’s performing oral sex on a man. Ted also enjoys the company of hookers when they’re available. Two men hold hands and share a kiss in one scene. We see John and Lori passionately kissing in bed in one scene (it’s implied they sleep together regularly, but it’s not shown on-screen). Lori wears only a towel in a scene (only her cleavage is showing).
- Violence: Mostly of the comedic variety. But Ted does have a rather aggressive side, and when he and John are mad at each other, the situation escalates quickly and John winds up with a heavy TV on top of him. Ted is also pursued by a stalker and loses some of his stuffing and “ligaments” along the way. The “Jewish kid” is beaten up by a bunch of bullies.