Lewd Fantasies and Juvenile Sentimentality
Starring: Mark Wahlberg, Mila Kunis,
Seth McFarland, Joel McHale,
Giovanni Ribisi, Sam Jones,
Patrick Warburton, Jessica
Barth, Patrick Stewart
Audience: Older teenagers and adults
Runtime: 105 minutes
Distributor: Universal Pictures/Comcast
Director: Seth MacFarlane
Writer: Seth MacFarlane, Alec Sulkin,
Address Comments To:Brian L. Roberts, Chairman/CEO/President, Comcast Corp.
Stephen Burke, CEO, NBC Universal
Ron Meyer, President/COO, Universal Studios
Adam Fogelson, Chairman, Universal Pictures
100 Universal City Plaza
Universal City, CA 91608-1085
Phone: (818) 777-1000
Web Page: www.universalstudios.com
Such is the case with the creative guy behind the popular TV cartoon hit, THE FAMILY GUY, Seth MacFarlane. During the few clean comedy moments on that show, McFarland has demonstrated an excellent ability to do funny voices caught in a few funny and wacky (but clean and relatively inoffensive) situations.
MacFarlane now turns his talent toward feature movies with the new R-rated comedy TED, about a guy who wishes his teddy bear come alive and the teddy bear grows up to be a foul-mouthed, underachieving stoner just like him. This basic plot just becomes a chance for MacFarlane and his team to indulge in raunchy, crude humor featuring abundant foul language, lewd humor, and frequent drug use before the final heartwarming denouement.
TED opens in 1985 with little John Bennett wishing that his Christmas teddy bear, his only friend in the world, come to life. A shooting star at the same time somehow answers that wish, and John’s mother excitedly proclaims it “a Christmas miracle.” In the world of the movie, the teddy bear, aka Ted, becomes a celebrity and is even interviewed by Johnny Carson on the old Tonight Show.
Years later, John is still living with his teddy bear. They also both now live with John’s long-time beautiful girlfriend, Lori. In between John’s boring job at a car rental place, the two friends smoke pot and engage in lewd conversations about life and popular culture, including their favorite movie when they were young, the cheesy 1980 FLASH GORDON movie with Sam Jones.
Ted keeps drawing John’s attention from Lori. When Ted brings home four prostitutes while John and Lori are on a special date, Lori finally gets fed up. She gives John and Ted an ultimatum. Either Ted gets a job and his own place, or she will kick them both out.
John accepts the ultimatum, but no matter how hard he tries to live up to his promise, Ted always seems to interfere. After John indulges in a night of wild partying with Ted and the real Sam Jones, Lori breaks up with John.
This finally forces John to break all ties with Ted. That’s easier said than done when a psycho fan of Ted’s kidnaps the talking teddy bear for his chubby lonely son.
McFarland treats this bizarre fantasy seriously. That lends the movie some surface reality, but it’s pretty short-lived because the script meanders through a series of somewhat unconnected scenes.
Much of the problem stems from the fact that the movie is about two relationships, not just one. It’s about John’s relationship to Ted AND John’s relationship to Lori. The comical scenes mainly focus on the Ted relationship. This means that the relationship with Lori never really gets a chance to connect with viewers. Thus, the jeopardy in the movie is diluted. Watching the movie, discerning viewers might wonder, who cares if Lori breaks up with John? There’s nothing at stake there. And, who cares if John never sees Ted again? Most of their relationship depicted by the movie just involves a bunch of superficial conversations with a lot of crude dialogue, not to mention pot smoking. No big loss, either way!
All this is pretty much Screenwriting 101. The bigger, even more fatal, flaw is that, other than friendship and male-female companionship, TED has little or no faith or values to really inspire the audience. The jokes are typical of the raunchy, abhorrent side of MacFarlane. They involve a lot of crude dialogue and situations, including unfettered drug use and even thinly veiled jokes about bestiality when the teddy bear encounters various human women. This not only gets pretty boring 30 minutes into the movie, especially when you don’t know what direction the movie is going. It also is rather meaningless, pointless, and abhorrent – spiritually and morally as well as philosophically and psychologically.
TED contains a lot of crude, abhorrent behavior and content, including frequent drug use and a brief pro-homosexual subplot. The crude content is mixed with some superficial and immature sentimentality that allows the hero to get the girl and still be close friends with his uncontrollable hedonistic friend. Thus, a strong Romantic worldview seems to dominate the movie’s very strong pagan, hedonistic behavior. The movie only rebukes some of the friend’s immoral, inappropriate behavior because it leads the hero to ignore his girlfriend and make her mad. Thus, in the end, the strong crude behavior depicted by the movie is really only designed to offend people and indulge in the creator and the actors’ more juvenile, puerile interests. Their fans may be intrigued for a little while, but probably not enough to make TED a really big hit at the box office.
Being self-controlled is one of the fruits of the Holy Spirit when you give your life to Jesus and accept the baptism of the Holy Spirit to be born again (see Galatians 5:23 as well as Proverbs 25:28 and Titus 2:1-6). The title character in TED is clearly not self-controlled, and neither is the art of Seth MacFarlane.
The first half of TED meanders quite a bit. It also focuses on two relationships instead of one, which dilutes the jeopardy in the plot. Other than friendship and male-female companionship, TED has little or no faith or values to really inspire viewers. In fact, it’s filled with raunchy, crude attempts at comedy, drug use, and abundant foul language. A shallow sentimental ending doesn’t help. TED is unacceptable, abhorrent viewing for any audience.