In 2005, audiences discovered Judd Apatow and 40 Year Old Virgin. Come 2009, Todd Phillips rocked the theatrical run of The Hangover. In 2012, Seth McFarlane waves a middle finger, moons all involved, and undoubtedly finds a way to work in a penis with Ted.
Comedy is defined in many ways by its longevity. Seth MacFarlane’s weak point is pop culture; no one will appreciate a jab at Katy Perry, whose movie opened a week after Ted, in 20 years. Celebrating Flash Gordon? We will always appreciate that.
Ted is in many ways ingenious, following the exploits of a going nowhere 35-year old and his magical Christmas stuffed bear who happens to be alive. One assumes the bear also went through puberty given the voice change, but it’s probably the only life happening that mercifully goes undisclosed. John Bennett (Mark Wahlberg) lives on enough to buy pot, and apparently keep his girlfriend satisfied (Mila Kunis).
Ted doesn’t work, or rather, not right away. He lands at a grocery store inadvertently after a tirade about the manager’s wife gets him promoted. Twice. Ted breaks everything, from running the gamut of racial humor (it’s possible even the Burmese are somehow involved), sexual lingo, and an endless series of close to the line jabs at emotional events – 9/11 is now fair game – shatter barriers. No, barriers don’t exist given what this generation of comedy has become, but somehow Ted invents them only to break them down.
The master stroke, many of which Ted is probably carrying, is the score. Seth McFarlane regular Walter Murphy produces a whimsical gem that backs all of the hurtful, spiteful, and self-referential cracks, but keeps the spirit of a holiday special. It softens blows, livens the mood, and gives the entire piece a spirit.
So yes, between the rips on Justin Bieber and Taylor Lautner, Ted has a heart. See, we’re back to Judd Apatow territory, but it’s stamped with the McFarlane touch. Do you feel for Ted and his animated shenanigans? Of course. Even if the film’s abrasive wonder doesn’t connect, there’s something loveable about that bear as he tackles Mark Wahlberg and crunches his testicles.
Ted is a romance, the only thing backing all of this endless excuse for one-liners, Wahlberg and Kunis following the motions of movie relationships with the added element of a wise-cracking bear. They work together because Ted himself works, driving them together or apart, the ultimate in third wheel relationship accessories.
Years ago, the creators of South Park gave George Clooney a role on the show. He voiced a supposedly gay dog that barked. They were against celebrity worship, and it would seem those ideals have run off onto McFarlane. A hero to Ted is a washed up super star from a kitsch ’80s classic, while letting others be depreciated into degrading antics despite what was certain box office appeal. See? Ted breaks everything, even its own financial margins… and a Hootie & the Blowfish classic.
Despite a wary alliance to the teal and orange club, Ted is a visual winner… Ted himself that is. From his exposed stuffing to battle scars on his furry hide, the definition on the totally CG being is quite spectacular. It is of course testament to the effects team as much as it is this Universal encode. Rarely is he produced with anything less than the finest of focus. He slips right into this digitally photographed world.
The Panavision Genesis pulls its weight in terms of overall detail with some remarkable exteriors like parks or brick apartment buildings. You can count the bricks if you were so inclined. Clarity and sharpness will bring this pop-up like moving picture book to life. Tack on generous black levels and a healthy contrast too. This is a combo assault on your eyes in the best way possible.
What comes up short is the heavy, high fidelity material. Mila Kunis looks smoothed slightly, and is rarely in a situation where facial texture will prove visible. That is consistent across all medium shots, with Kunis being the inadvertent target of HD ire. The mix rarely works and comes across as somewhat artificial in a world stunningly defined elsewhere.
The slightest bit of noise is the only other warning sign of a drop in quality, something also evident during the theatrical presentation. Universal’s AVC encode is enough to step up and keep it under control without additional grievances. The conversion has also avoided any aliasing or other image fault. This is a good one despite some reservations at the source.
There is limited material for Ted to work with via this DTS-HD mix, but rest assured, the mind-blowingly awesome Flash Gordon has never sounded better. As John first meets his childhood hero, the music swells with superb fidelity, and offers a nice, hearty low-end to help out. Surround use is just the addition it needed to pull it all together.
The design also makes thunder prominent, critical in terms of how it works within the story. Thunder Buddies are advised to work through this movie. Clubs and parties will creep into the mix with plenty of design enthusiasm, while the finale carries a car chase with plenty of tracking across the soundstage. What is may lack in overall heft, Ted will make up for with excellent spacing.
Mark Wahlberg joins Seth MecFarlane and co-writer Alec Sullivan for commentary duty, having plenty of fun doing so. Fifteen deleted scenes run an equal number of minutes in length, with a few gems sprinkled about. Alternate takes are loaded with gags worth watching. A gag reel is hilarious, if only to see the breakdowns in the midst of a stuffed bear or eyeballs on a stick.
A making of is decently detailed considering the movie, split into three parts that run a bit under 25-minutes. Teddy Bear Scuffle breaks down a fight scene and the effects needed to create it. Note the disc contains the theatrical and unrated cuts, the latter interspersing small lines of dialogue throughout that are worth the extra six minutes. Universal includes BD-Live access too.