Movies: Ted

John (Mark Wahlberg) and Ted are BFFs
who vow to do everything together.
Photo: © 2012 Universal Pictures

Ted may be a one-joke movie and the joke — a toy magically coming to life — is not a new one. But, in the hands of co-writer, director, actor Seth MacFarlane, it is a very funny joke. (It is also not a joke for kids and the movie earns its R rating.)

In brief, the story opens as eight-year-old John Bennett, a child who has no friends — and the way that fact is proven is very funny — gets a Teddy bear from his parents for Christmas. He wishes that the gift, whom he decided to name “Teddy,” would come to life so he could have a friend. So happens that, just as he makes the wish, a shooting star passes overhead and his wish comes true. Teddy becomes famous, appearing on Carson, on magazine covers, etc. Ultimately, as John grows up, Teddy remains his BFF and all of the people who know John accept this.

Now, John is 35 years old, working at a car rental place with people like Guy (Patrick Warburton), who may be finding himself in the world of gay nightclubs and a boss who worships the actor Tom Skerritt.

John also has a girlfriend, Lori (Mila Kunis) who is getting fed up with Ted encouraging John to be a slacker, to sit around and smoke pot instead of working. The breaking point comes when Ted brings a quartet of hookers into their apartment and one of them does something unthinkable on their floor. And that’s a just a small bit of the body function humor in a film full of it. There’s also some humor that’s bound to be mentioned among classic film bits, specifically the exchange during which John tries to guess the “white trash” name of Ted’s girlfriend. It is a comic masterpiece.

There are also bad guys in Ted. There’s Donny (Giovanni Ribisi), who has worshipped Ted since childhood and wants him for his own son and Rex (Joel McHale), Lori’s smarmy boss, who wants Lori for himself.

The entire enterprise is narrated in stentorian tones by Patrick Stewart and Norah Jones makes an appearance.

The script is in the same vein as MacFarlane’s Family Guy work only, with no TV network censors to interfere, this is leagues funnier. It’s full of pointed, apt pop-culture references and even embraces Sam J. Jones who played Flash Gordon and became a hero to John and Ted.

In fact, Ted is a plain old Hollywood bromance. These guys love each other as buddies may do. They support each other in every circumstance (for proof, just listen to the “Thunder Buddies” song) and want the best for each other. In the end, the fact that one part of this bromance is a plush toy is incidental.

Ted is Mac Farlane’s first foray into film. There are sure to be a lot more and, if this is any indication, they will be massively funny and successful.

Just remember that it has a R rating.