Cinemania > ‘Ted’: a decent idea gone unbearably wrong

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ted

“Ted” is the latest in a long line of comedies about a man stuck in a state of arrested development who needs to grow up. In this case, the difference is the addition of a talking CGI teddy bear. It’s the directorial debut of Seth MacFarlane, the creator of the hit series “Family Guy.”

While this R-rated comedy is allowed to go further than his TV show ever could, the tone of the humor is fairly similar. But the occasional clever moment is surrounded by laziness and an endless number of pop-culture references disguised as jokes.

It’s upsetting, because the premise is actually fairly original. As a boy, John Bennett wishes upon a star for his stuffed teddy bear to come to life. His wish comes true, and thus Ted is born. The two bond immediately and become lifelong friends.

At first, Ted gains instant celebrity. He appears on talk shows and on the cover of magazines. Eventually though, people begin to lose interest. After the genuinely funny and interesting setup and an equally funny growing-up montage, the movie flashes forward 27 years. John is now 35 years old, in a committed relationship and still hanging around with Ted, who has become the epitome of the unemployed stoner. Here is where the film loses all momentum.

The driving force behind this movie is John, played as an adult by Mark Wahlberg, who is forced to grow up and grow apart from his unemployed, beer-swilling, pot-smoking roommate and move on in his relationship with girlfriend Mila Kunis. Believe it or not, the fact that Ted’s a talking bear becomes irrelevant almost immediately. For a majority of this movie, Ted could be played by a human actor and it would change almost nothing.

You would think some characters might react to seeing a walking talking Teddy bear, but no. The premise seems like such a waste when all you are going to do with this character is have him sit on a couch ripping a bong.

MacFarlane, who also voices the title character, seems to hinge his film on the notion that a CGI-animated teddy bear doing and saying outrageous things is funny, regardless of context. And it is somewhat funny, at first. But once you get used to seeing the character onscreen, there is not much to it.

Don’t get me wrong – there are funny lines and parts that are truly clever. But they are few and far between. Plot is not MacFarlane’s strong suit and it shows. This would be fine if the characters were compelling and the jokes were more hit than miss, but this is sadly not the case in “Ted.”

The jokes that do hit are usually pop-culture-based, which makes them instantly forgettable. The one barb that has gotten the most attention recently is the Lou Gehrig joke – an angry John wishes the disease on another character. Offensive? Yes, for two reasons: it’s obnoxious and it’s just not funny.

The story itself is a mess. One-dimensional characters are introduced and immediately dropped, almost as if scenes were cut for time. There are moments that are blatantly racist, homophobic and misogynistic. These moments are meant to be offensively funny, but they come off as lazy. There is a difference between pointing out the hypocrisy of racism and celebrating it. There is no irony or satire here, just blatant stereotyping.

Sad to relate, “Ted” is the epitome of a lazy movie. It takes a good premise and then takes it nowhere.

 

Spiderman 

The Amazing Spiderman

“The Amazing Spiderman” tries its best to reboot the franchise in a serious way, but doesn't distinguish itself from the previous efforts.

Director Marc Webb retells Peter Parker’s origins and ends up treading over familiar plot points while attempting to establish a darker tone in the vein of “Batman.” But Spidey is a character known for his wisecracks and heart, and unfortunately, this film manages to zap that out entirely.

Andrew Garfield makes a passable Spiderman, and Emma Stone is great as his love interest. It’s a decent film but if you miss it, you won’t miss much.

 Savages

Savages

Director Oliver Stone knows how to make a film that looks and feels great, even when the script is inconsistent and somewhat sloppy.

Such is the case with “Savages,” starring Blake Lively as a blond beauty in a sincere and unconventional relationship with two best friends played by Aaron Johnson and Taylor Kitsch.

The two run a cannabis business together in California, and when they turn down a deal to work with a Mexican cartel led by Selma Hayek, Lively's character is kidnapped. The two then turn to violence to reclaim their lost love.

What happens south of the border is much more interesting than the main plot with its vapid, pretty characters.

Lively delivers the story in deadpan voiceover while plot points get slightly muddled. Two performances elevate the material significantly: John Travolta as a corrupt DEA agent and Benecio Del Toro as Hayek’s henchman.

The movie occasionally promises something more than it can deliver, but there are moments in Stone’s latest that are worth seeing.

 

 


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