Thursday, August 2, 2012

Ted (Brockway)

Tropic Sprockets by Ian Brockway 

Seth McFarlane of the wildly irreverent series "Family Guy", now attempts his gutsy humor in a live action format with "Ted". The film is astonishingly, about a abrasive and chatty teddy bear. Far-fetched and absurd the story is, but the film succeeds in spite of itself, precisely because it does not apologize.

Yes, the plot is Charmin tissue thin, but so fucking what? The film zooms by with a confident spontaneity that Judd Apatow would now be envious of and better yet, "Ted" never loses its inertia mainly due to the direction and voiceover work of Seth McFarlane.

Mark Wahlberg stars as  the adult John, once a quiet, lonely boy from Boston who has no friends (although one wonders why). John is alone one Christmas morning and makes a wish to have a forever friend. Abracadabra! Dude! The teddy bear starts jabbering like Jay Leno and goes on The Carson Show. 

Fast forward to adulthood and Ted the teddy bear is starting to cramp John's relationship with his girlfriend, Lori played by Mila Kunis. 

Just when you think McFarlane has sold out and taken the Disney cruise line, though, think again. Ted is no Elmo from "Sesame Street" nor is he Oscar the Grouch. Ted smokes pot, he swears like Lenny Bruce and George Carlin combined and he has an amoral sexual imagination that rivals the porn king Ron Jeremy. Ted comments on everything from oral sex and masturbation to politics with an outrageousness that has to be seen to be believed ( and you will laugh all the way).

Despite the film's black and blue humor, however, it is never mean or hateful. The jokes are so absurdist and silly that "Ted" is never in danger of being really dangerous or disturbing. Nor does it intend to be such. As the film progresses, Ted is less a Teddy bear  than your smartass brother  that you always look out for and protect. A poignancy of childhood emerges here: the macho Mark Wahlberg forced to part ways with his best friend and reduced to a puddle of jelly. 

The first sight of Ted running under the covers because of thunder will have you rolling in the aisles, not to mention the fact that the film also contains a fight scene that is simply the most fun I've ever had with a comedy in a long, long time. Such fearless combat with a furry friend is as action packed as it is ridiculous, and it keeps going and going with such confounding aggression as if to make a melody out of  its madness. The fight scene emerges as a symbol of the entire film given that McFarlane attacks the screen with his risqué sarcasm. And the film is all the better for it. 

At one point, I recalled my last screening, and remembered  that Hushpuppy had a stuffed bear that looked very much like Ted, and that he could have given those on the other side of the levy a good what-for as a "beast" of the Southern Wild.  I couldn't help myself. 

In this film though, no race, no cultural icon, or  movement is spared from McFarlane's  glib Rickles-like commentary, but despite Ted's kinky pelt and furry flatulence, there is a message here, albeit light. Even grown children with profane best friends grow up eventually. Yet watching such a process unfold has seldom seemed so outrageously risky or so gently accessible in its ending.

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