BY PHIL BACHARACH
Ted is a foul-mouthed, hooker-loving pothead prone to comments of racism, homophobia and misogyny. Ted is also a stuffed teddy bear.
That’s the premise, plot and central joke of Ted, the movie-directorial debut of Seth MacFarlane, creator of TV’s animated series Family Guy. It’s a funny enough idea, but stretched mighty thin for feature-film length.
MacFarlane supplies the voice of the titular character, as he does for Family Guy’s Peter Griffin, but the similarities don’t end there. Written by MacFarlane and two of his TV collaborators, Ted is chock full of non sequiturs, politically incorrect humor and the conviction that pop-culture references are funny in and of themselves. Sometimes it works, and Ted, to its credit, boasts a handful of outrageously funny bits. But it’s also slack-paced and uneven enough to screw up your equilibrium.
Mark Wahlberg (Contraband) plays John Bennett, a 35-year-old Boston guy with a curious backstory. As a smarmy voiceover narrator explains, John was a lonely kid in the ‘80s when he made a fateful Christmas wish that his beloved teddy be able to talk and befriend him. That wish came true.
Decades later, John is in a deadend job and spends most of his time doing bong hits with Ted. Adding to his dilemma, John’s gorgeous girlfriend, Lori (Mila Kunis, Friends with Benefits), thinks it’s time for him to grow up.
MacFarlane draws things out with farts, shoehorned cameos and sitcom fodder, like Joel McHale (TV’s Community) as an oily boss with designs on Lori, and Giovanni Ribisi (Avatar) doing his creepy shtick. For every laugh, expect four tortured references to Flash Gordon, Tom Skerritt and the like.
If you’re OK with that ratio, and yearn to see a teddy bear smack Wahlberg’s bare ass with an antenna, get to the theater now.