July 5, 2012

'Ted' bears plenty of laughs


---- — Those who are fans of the animated series “Family Guy” will no doubt love the first feature film by show creator Seth MacFarlane: “Ted.”

For everyone else, the raunchy tale of a talking teddy bear is hit or miss.

The human star of “Ted” is Mark Wahlberg’s John Bennett, who was a lonely young boy growing up in a Boston suburb until a magical childhood wish turned his Christmas teddy bear into a live, sentient friend-for-life.

Ted’s animation made him a national celebrity — complete with a “Tonight Show” appearance — but in time, the American public always forgets and moves on to the next oddity.

Now it’s 27 years later, and John and Ted are still best buddies — though Ted has become a sarcastic, obscenity-spewing, pot smoker with a taste for hookers.

Yes, parents of young kids should take the R rating seriously.

John is still a man-child — obsessed with 1980’s lame “Flash Gordon” movie and its star Sam Jones, in addition to his weird teddy-bear habit — which is proving to be an impediment to his budding romance with sexy and successful Lori (Mila Kunis).

Can he really bear, however, to be separated from the best friend he ever had?

MacFarlane, who also supplies the voice of Ted, provides his expected scattershot humor and a collage of pop-culture references. Almost all of it is based on the one joke — look, it’s a foul-mouthed teddy bear! — but there are several laugh-out-loud moments. Many of the jokes, though, go on too long, or just sit there.

Wahlberg has good moments as John, and shows a surprising rapport with a CGI co-star. He also forms a believable relationship with Kunis, who is quite good in a limited role. Despite being the one who demands that Ted and John separate, she doesn’t come across as cloying or unsympathetic.

The film has at least one good surprise cameo, and Giovanni Ribisi is goofily effective as a creepy stalker fan. Joel McHale isn’t as memorable as Lori’s lascivious boss.

“Ted” allows MacFarlane to go further than a network cartoon ever could. It’s sure to give adults at least a few laughs, and maybe more.

Rental Recommendation: “Toy Story 3” is another film about talking toys with owners approaching adulthood. Grade: A.

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