Unusual romantic comedy

In a film that tries to be many things, Ted can be best described as a story of a man who refuses to grow up, or the story of a romance united by an unusual plot device – a talking bear named Ted. And not just any talking bear but one made out of cloth and cotton, possessing an irrepressible taste for marijuana, vulgarity and ethnic slander.

Little surprise then that the film was directed by Seth MacFarlane, best known for serving audiences with Family Guy – the irreverent, potty-mouthed animated series set along the lines of The Simpsons, but which aims for acclaim through whining and crude social commentary.

In Ted, a stuffed teddy bear comes to life after a wish is made by its juvenile and lonely owner. By when the boy, John Bennett, grows into a man (played by Mark Wahlberg), the bear has become a permanent fixture in his life.

It is also a frequent source of consternation for John’s fiancé, Lori (Mila Kunis), who wishes that John would make a clean break with his furry friend.

Wahlberg adeptly plays his character – that of the caring underachiever who is pushed to new heights by those he cares about. His interactions with the animated bear come off as real and are often genuinely funny.

Despite its sometimes tired, over-sexualised gags typical of MacFarlane’s creations (he also voiced the bear), the film works on several levels. It is helped by memorable cameos and by the shameless abuse of ‘80s icons.

Those who watched the 1980 camp classic Flash Gordon, will be in splits over an outrageous fight between Sam Jones (the titular Gordon) and an oriental neighbour whom he believes is his cinematic arch-villain, Ming.

In the end, the plot can be boiled down into the following formula: Boy meets girl, boy loses girl, bear wins girl back for boy.

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