The Hobbit: Battle of the Five Armies
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.

 

Leave a Reply

Wilmington

Quote Unquotesee all »

“Yes, good movies sprout up, inevitably, in the cracks and seams between the tectonic plates on which all of these franchises stay balanced, and we are reassured of their hardiness. But we don’t see what we don’t see; we don’t see the effort, or the cost of the effort, or the movies of which we’re deprived because of the cost of the effort. Paul Thomas Anderson’s Inherent Vice may have come from a studio, but it still required a substantial chunk of outside financing, and at $35 million, it’s not even that expensive. No studio could find the $8.5 million it cost Dan Gilroy to make Nightcrawler. Birdman cost a mere $18 million and still had to scrape that together at the last minute. Imagine American movie culture for the last few years without Her or Foxcatcher or American Hustle or The Master or Zero Dark Thirty and it suddenly looks markedly more frail—and those movies exist only because of the fairy godmothership of independent producer Megan Ellison. The grace of billionaires is not a great business model on which to hang the hopes of an art form.”
~ Mark Harris On The State Of The Movies

How do you make a Top Ten list? For tax and organizational purposes, I keep a log of every movie I see (Title, year, director, exhibition format, and location the film was viewed in). Anything with an asterisk to the left of its title means it’s a 2014 release (or something I saw at a festival which is somehow in play for the year). If there’s a performance, or sequence, or line of dialogue, even, that strikes me in a certain way, I’ll make a note of it. So when year end consideration time (that is, the month and change out of the year where I feel valued) rolls around, it’s a little easier to go through and pull some contenders for categories. For 2014, I’m voting in three polls: Indiewire, SEFCA (my critics’ guild), and the Muriels. Since Indiewire was first, it required the most consternation. There were lots of films that I simply never had a chance to see, so I just went with my gut. SEFCA requires a lot of hemming and hawing and trying to be strategic, even though there’s none of the in-person skullduggery that I hear of from folk whose critics’ guild is all in the same city. The Muriels is the most fun to contribute to because it’s after the meat market phase of awards season. Also, because it’s at the beginning of next year, I’ll generally have been able to see everything I wanted to by then. I love making hierarchical lists, partially because they are so subjective and mercurial. Every critical proclamation is based on who you are at that moment and what experiences you’ve had up until that point. So they change, and that’s okay. It’s all a weird game of timing and emotional waveforms, and I’m sure a scientist could do an in-depth dissection of the process that leads to the discovery of shocking trends in collective evaluation. But I love the year end awards crush, because I feel somewhat respected and because I have a wild-and-wooly work schedule that has me bouncing around the city to screenings, or power viewing the screeners I get sent.
Jason Shawhan of Nashville Scene Answers CriticWire