I’m not a great fan of the Seth MacFarlane brand, his Hellboy 2 voice-work aside, and this has done nothing to convert me. Mark Wahlberg deserves the lion’s share of the credit for this being moderately engaging, perfectly cast as the straight man. He grounds the proceedings and lends them sincerity; surprising, as he’s generally a bit of a plank in leading roles. Mila Kunis is good too, adding likeability to what might easily have become the shrill, complaining girlfriend role.
Part of the problem here is that there’s nothing distinctive beyond the high concept conceit of a talking teddy bear. The fertile ground of Ted’s former celebrity status is hardly mined, although it was a smart idea to have the whole world know about him, as these sorts of movies would usually revolve around keeping his status a secret. But, given that Ted is a foulmouthed, crude, all-offending bear, he may as well have been played by Nick Frost (in the mode of his Shaun of the Dead character). For me at least, it doesn’t suddenly become funny purely because it’s a teddy bear saying it/doing it. But, as I said, I’m not enamoured of MacFarlane’s defiantly lowbrow “If it’s crude/sexist/borderline racist it’s funny” tastes; if that’s all the comedy consists of there’s no longer any edge to it.
The 40-year-old adolescent seems like an over-used character trait to prop up a story anyway (a symptom of this generation), as does the smattering of celebrity cameos and ‘80s cinema references (Sam Jones/Flash Gordon getting the lion’s share). Giovanni Ribisi is cast against type as a psycho with a weird voice, but his miming to Tiffany was one of the few genuine laughs here. Another was the naming of a duck "James Franco".