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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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Wilmington

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“Let me try and be as direct as I possibly can with you on this. There was no relationship to repair. I didn’t intend for Harvey to buy and release The Immigrant – I thought it was a terrible idea. And I didn’t think he would want the film, and I didn’t think he would like the film. He bought the film without me knowing! He bought it from the equity people who raised the money for me in the States. And I told them it was a terrible idea, but I had no say over the matter. So they sold it to him without my say-so, and with me thinking it was a terrible idea. I was completely correct, but I couldn’t do anything about it. It was not my preference, it was not my choice, I did not want that to happen, I have no relationship with Harvey. So, it’s not like I repaired some relationship, then he screwed me again, and I’m an idiot for trusting him twice! Like I say, you try to distance yourself as much as possible from the immediate response to a movie. With The Immigrant I had final cut. So he knew he couldn’t make me change it. But he applied all the pressure he could, including shelving the film.”
James Gray

“I’m an unusual producer because I control the destiny of a lot of the films I’ve done. Most of them are in perfect states of restoration and preservation and distribution, and I aim to keep them in distribution. HanWay Films, which is my sales company, has a 500-film catalogue, which is looked after and tended like a garden. I’m still looking after my films in the catalogue and trying to get other people to look after their films, which we represent intellectually, to try to keep them alive. A film has to be run through a projector to be alive, unfortunately, and those electric shadows are few and far between now. It’s very hard to go and see films in a movie house. I was always involved with the sales and marketing of my films, right up from The Shout onwards. I’ve had good periods, but I also had a best period because the film business was in its best period then. You couldn’t make The Last Emperor today. You couldn’t make The Sheltering Sky today. You couldn’t make those films anymore as independent films. There are neither the resources nor the vision within the studios to go to them and say, “I want to make a film about China with no stars in it.”Then, twenty years ago, I thought, “OK, I’m going to sell my own films but I don’t want to make it my own sales company.” I wanted it to be for me but I wanted to make it open for every other producer, so they don’t feel that they make a film but I get the focus. So, it’s a company that is my business and I’m involved with running it in a certain way, but I’m not seen as a competitor with other people that use it. It’s used by lots of different producers apart from me. When I want to use it, however, it’s there for me and I suppose I’m planning to continue making all my films to be sold by HanWay. I don’t have to, but I do because it’s in my building and the marketing’s here, and I can do it like that. Often, it sounds like I’m being easy about things, but it’s much more difficult than it sounds. It’s just that I’ve been at it for a long time and there’s lots of fat and security around my business. I know how to make films, but it’s not easy—it’s become a very exacting life.”
~ Producer Jeremy Thomas