Ted review

As far as marketing hooks go, “From the creator of ‘Family Guy’” is a pretty strong one, even if it’s going to divide audiences right down the middle. Over the last 15 years creator Seth MacFarlane has made a little comedy empire with a trio of animated shows all created from the same basic template (“The Simpsons”) and mutated a bit for each iteration (Republican “Family Guy,” Black “Family Guy”). So it’s no surprise that for his feature debut, the live action comedy “Ted,” he hasn’t strayed too far from the formula. The film features Mark Wahlberg as a grown-up version of John Bennett, a kid who once wished his teddy bear were real and got his wish. That teddy bear, Ted (motion captured by MacFarlane, basically doing his Peter Griffin voice), becomes famous for the novelty of being a talking stuffed animal and experiences the trappings of fame.

Cut to present day where Ted is a washed up former celeb and the roommate who’s unknowingly holding John back from doing more with his life by not allowing him to grow up and stop sitting around smoking pot and making irresponsible decisions. This becomes a problem for Lori (Mila Kunis), John’s girlfriend of several years who wants him to start being more responsible. And you can probably guess where it goes from here. In addition to this conflict the film unnecessarily introduces two other plots: one involving Lori’s smarmy boss Rex (Joel McHale) and the other featuring creepy dad Donny (Giovanni Ribisi) who wants to steal Ted for his son, which seems like it belongs in a different film. And despite some overtures made to not make Lori just a ‘wet blanket’ girlfriend character, she still ends up being basically that.

The scenes between John and Ted are the highlights of the film which features some laugh-out-loud moments. The screenplay by MacFarlane and “Family Guy” writers Alec Sulkin & Wellesley Wild isn’t likely to win over any new fans but I have to at least admire MacFarlane for staying true to his voice. For a studio comedy, “Ted” is for better and worse completely his voice. Sometimes that works (the scene of Wahlberg rattling off white-trash names is inspired) but sometimes its for the worse (whoever let him score the film with that 70s sitcom soundtrack should be sternly talked to). Like his television shows, the scattershot of jokes hits as often as it misses but the screenplay is sort of a mess, structurally, not that audiences seemed to mind. The movie opened huge last weekend, proving that “funny but not necessarily good” is sometimes “good enough.”

13 Films I Am Probably Definitely Going To See This Summer

Well, “The Avengers” is out today which must mean that Summer Movie Season is once again upon us. For the next 3 months multiplexes will be pummeled with all manner of potential blockbusters (with the occasional arthouse counterprogramming). While I’ve also seen a handful of Summer releases which I’d recommend including “The Avengers,” “Beasts Of The Southern Wild,” “The Loved Ones" and "Safety Not Guaranteed" there are still plenty of films left to go. Some I couldn’t be less interested in (“Battleship” “Men In Black 3” etc.), some I’m more curious about than anticipating and some I’m really, really looking forward to (see below!) Alright, May to August here we go!

1. The Dark Knight Rises (July 20) Christopher Nolan returns to finish his epic Bat-trilogy. I walked out of “The Dark Knight” thinking it was an impossible act to follow, but 4 years later I’m starting to think that if anyone can do it, Nolan can. Watch the trailer.

2. Prometheus (June 8) This quasi-prequel to “Alien” marks director Ridley Scott’s first foray into sci-fi in 30 years. It looks incredible but can it possibly live up to the trailer?

3. Moonrise Kingdom (May 25) Despite a decade of diminishing returns for the celebrated auteur I remain hopeful that his latest - a 60’s set tale featuring two 12 year old runaways - will mark a return to form. Wes Anderson, I just can’t quit you. Watch the trailer.

4. Brave (June 22) After punishing America last summer with a film whose name I dare not speak, Pixar look ready to apologize to us. I haven’t been blown away by the trailers but am still hoping that my blind faith in the studio will pay off with another classic.

5. The Amazing Spider-Man (July 3) It may seem too soon to push reset on the “Spider-Man” series but the 3rd entry was a “Batman & Robin”-level disaster that really called for it. Add Andrew Garfield and Emma Stone and some unexpected talent behind the camera and I’m definitely curious to see what they do with it. Watch the trailer.

6. ParaNorman (August 17) From the studio that brought you “Coraline” comes another dark and beautiful looking stop-motion tale. This one features a misunderstood boy who can speak to the dead. Watch the trailer, be convinced.

7. Snow White & The Huntsman (June 1) Though I’m not really interested in the whole fairy tale re-imaginings (started by Tim Burton’s odious “Alice In Wonderland”) I have to say I’ve been curious about this one since I saw some visuals last year at Comic-Con. Watch the trailer.

8. Seeking A Friend For The End Of The World (June 22) A dark comedy about the end of the world starring Steve Carell and Keira Knightley. Doesn’t that sound like something you would want to see? Watch the trailer.

9. Neighborhood Watch (July 27) Ben Stiller, Vince Vaughn, Jonah Hill and “Garth Marenghi’s Darkplace“‘s Richard Ayoade in a Seth Rogen/Evan Goldberg scripted, Akiva Schaffer (Lonely Island) directed comedy about suburban dads who defend their neighborhood from aliens. Watch the trailer.

10. The Campaign Will Ferrell v. Zach Galifianakis as rival politicians. (August 10)

11. Ted (July 13) From the creator of “Family Guy.” But just watch the trailer.

12. The Dictator (May 16) The first trailer was very bad but the new one is much better!

13. Ruby Sparks (July 25) From the directors behind “Little Miss Sunshine” comes their long awaited sophomore feature which could be too precious or it could be cute.Watch the trailer.

Also: Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter (June 22), The Bourne Legacy (August 3), Dark Shadows (May 11), Magic Mike (June 29), Savages (July 6).