MCN Columnists
Mike Wilmington

By Mike Wilmington Wilmington@moviecitynews.com

Wilmington on DVDs: Ted



TED  (Also Two Disc Blu-ray/DVD Combo) (Two and a Half Stars)
U. S.: Seth MacFarlane, 2012 (Universal)


Ted is a vulgar, irreverent, dirty-mouthed comedy about a vulgar, irreverent, dirty mouthed teddy bear named, of course, Ted — a fuzzy horny little stoner who is the best friend of a sweet, somewhat Peter-Pannish Boston Guy named John Bennett (Mark Wahlberg, as likeable and undangerous as he can get).

Why are we reviewing movies about badmouth, pop-culture-obsessed teddy bears — dirty-mouthed funny movies that are also cute and sentimental? Well, long ago, one magical Christmas — narrated, at his most plush-tongued and mock-classical, by Patrick Stewart — Ted was granted the power of (largely four-letter-word) speech, writer-director Seth MacFarlane’s speech, in fact, and also the power of motion-capture (CGI’s or something) by a falling star. (Yes, by golly: A star. Falling.) And he and little John, the least popular kid in the neighborhood, promised to be best buds forever , through thick and thin, through Celtic wins and Celtic losses, through Flash Gordon and Jack and Jill, through pot smoke and busted relationships — except for the one gal John doesn’t want to lose, lovable stick-it-out Lori (Mila Kunis), a knockout who’s put up with him (and Ted) for a good chunk of the run of MacFarlane’s dirty-mouthed Fox cartoon comedy, Family Guy.

Ted was famous for a while, but now he’s gone the way of many faded celebrities — from Corey Haim to Corey Feldman to Professor Irwin Corey to Samuel J. Jones, star of the boy‘s beloved pet movie fiasco, the 1980 Flash Gordon. But lately he’s just been hanging around, providing all kinds of bad examples for John. So now Lori, who is being pursued avidly by her rich narcissistic boss (Joel McHale) gives John a choice: Beauty or the Bear, Lori or the Tedster, a life of couch potato stonery and marijuana-fueled buffoonery, or a life with the Family Gal. It’s a hard pick, like one of Kevin McHale’s. Lori flashes a real Mila Kunis come-hither look and lays down the law. Teddy spreads his little Teddy-arms Teddy-Bear-wide: “Bring it in, yuh bastid.“ Aaaaaw!

Ted, which is MacFarlane’s first movie feature, is a brom-com with a difference. It’s about two arrested-development types and the bad-judgment, too-horny, screw-up one is a stuffed bear come-to-life. But nobody ever reacts as if it’s a toy-come-to-life, not even Johnny Carson on TV, on his show, brought to your screens through the magic of computers, or something. That’s the joke, and the whole cast plays it straight — even Giovanni Ribisi as the teddy-bear-fetishist with the overweight son (Aedin Mincks — and there’s a great wrap-up gag on him). And well, dammit, the joke works, even though you shouldn’t take your small kids to Ted, because it has so much casual swearing. Even though it’s the one movie they’ll probably want to see, after The Avengers. And even though any Ted talking stuffed bear toy will probably be one of the toy store’s biggest sellers, especially in its R versions.

There’s a lot of jokes in this movie, and most of them work. Not all of them — in fact, some of them are awful — but, compared to most of the four-letter —- we’ve been getting at the movies, an indecent percentage of the would-be funny stuff on Ted clicks, a lot of it aimed at other movies and other comedians. Sam Jones shows up, not the ballplayer, but the star of the 1980 Flash Gordon. The music in on the nose. The special effects aren’t bad either. The action scene sucks, but you can’t win ’em all.

Listen, I’m like almost everybody else. If you make me laugh, I’ll forgive you. I’ll forgive almost anything. In fact, I feel here a bit like the priest with the Mafia guy on the other side of the screen. There’s a lot to forgive and expiate: so many sins, so little time. A lot of Hail Marys here. But what the hell. It made me laugh. I forgive it. Bring it in, yuh bastid. Where’s the brewskis?

Extras: Commentary by Wahlberg and McFarlane; “Making Of” Documentary; Deleted scenes; Gag Reel: Teddy Bear scuffle.


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“We now have a situation where audiences very often prefer commercial trash to Bergman’s Persona or Bresson’s L’Argent. Professionals find themselves shrugging, and predicting that serious, significant works will have no success with the general public. What is the explanation? Decline of taste or impoverishment of repertoire? Neither and both. It is simply that cinema now exists, and is evolving, under new conditions. That total, enthralling impression which once overwhelmed the audiences of the 1930s was explained by the universal delight of those who were witnessing and rejoicing over the birth of a new art form, which furthermore had recently acquired sound. By the very fact of its existence this new art, which displayed a new kind of wholeness, a new kind of image, and revealed hitherto unexplored areas of reality, could not but astound its audiences and turn them into passionate enthusiasts.

Less than twenty years now separate us from the twenty-first century. In the course of its existence, through its peaks and troughs, cinema has travelled a long and tortuous path. The relationship that has grown up between artistic films and the commercial cinema is not an easy one, and the gulf between the two becomes wider every day. Nonetheless, films are being made all the time that are undoubtedly landmarks in the history of cinema. Audiences have become more discerning in their attitude to films. Cinema as such long ago ceased to amaze them as a new and original phenomenon; and at the same time it is expected to answer a far wider range of individual needs. Audiences have developed their likes and dislikes. That means that the filmmaker in turn has an audience that is constant, his own circle. Divergence of taste on the part of audiences can be extreme, and this is in no way regrettable or alarming; the fact that people have their own aesthetic criteria indicates a growth of self-awareness.

Directors are going deeper into the areas which concern them. There are faithful audiences and favorite directors, so that there is no question of thinking in terms of unqualified success with the public—that is, if one is talking about cinema not as commercial entertainment but as art. Indeed, mass popularity suggests what is known as mass culture, and not art.”
~ Andrei Tarkovsky, “Sculpting In Time”

“People seem to be watching [fewer] movies, which I think is a mistake on people’s parts, and they seem to be making more of them, which I think is okay. Some of these movies are very good. When you look at the quality of Sundance movies right now, they are a lot better than they were when I was a kid. I do think that there have been improvements artistically, but it’s tough. We’ve got a system that’s built for less movies in terms of how many curatorial standard-bearers we have in the states. It’s time for us to expand our ideas of where we find our great films in America, but that said, it’s a real hustle. I’m so happy that Factory 25 exists. If it didn’t exist, there would be so many movies that wouldn’t ever get distributed because Matt Grady is the only person who has seen the commercial potential in them. He’s preserving a very special moment in independent film history that the commercial system is not going to be preserving. He’s figuring out how to make enough money on it to save these films and get them onto people’s shelves.”
~ Homemakers‘ Colin Healey On Indie Distribution