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"We are gonna party like the 1980s!" "Show us how, Flash!" "Easy. We're just gonna nail a lot of girls named Stephanie...."
Universal / 106 Minutes / 2012 / Unrated / Street Date: December 11, 2012
Right off the bat I have to admit that I hate Family Guy. I'm all for postmodern, referential zaniness, but something about Seth MacFarlane's series has always rubbed me the wrong way. With so many of my friends and colleagues bending over backwards to offer accolades to the random show, I've tried again and again to turn the other cheek, yet while I'll admit that sometimes the material works, for the most part, I'm a hater.
So I had misgivings about going in to watch Ted this summer. The conceit was stoner-comedy strong, and I've always liked Mark Wahlberg, but I was ostensibly nervous about MacFarlane basically making a feature-length Family Guy episode, one that would leave much of the multiplex audience in stitches and me wishing I'd bought a ticket for something else. But for a handful of refreshing reasons, I'm happy to say that I was able to put my Family Guy bigotry on hold during Ted, a dumb-shit comedy that works across the board.
MacFarlane doesn't aim too high with his setup in Ted, and that's part of what lends it such a zippy charm. John (Wahlberg) makes a wish when he's a kid that his teddy bear, Ted (voiced by MacFarlane) would come to life, and it magically comes true. Cut to John as an overgrown manchild in his thirties who only wants to watch movies and smoke weed with Ted, who has himself grown into a couch potato stoner. They have a blast, sure, but when the hot young eyes of Mila Kunis find their way toward John, the guy has to decide between an adult relationship and taking a few bong rips and watching Flash Gordon again.
I bring up Flash Gordon because for those who haven't seen Ted, it's the movie's ace in the hole. Usually beloved cheesy sci-fi movies are cited in comedies like this one for immediate and cursory effect, but MacFarlane doubles down on his Flash Gordon love, and the results are nothing short of epic (Sam Jones even shows up for a fantastically odd short performance). But even without our beloved Flash, Ted proves pretty effortlessly on Blu-ray why it's the comedy of the year (maybe even the comedy since The Hangover): this is off-color, staccato humor that comes with both pop-culture thoroughness and (gasp!) even a little bit of heart. You may not fall in love with the movie as a whole, but you'll definitely laugh your ass off at least a few times.