Wahlberg Takes Bro-mance to a New Comedy Level in Ted
By Jared Bowen
BOSTON — Just about a minute into the film Ted a huge surge of uproarious laughter washes over the audience and, for the better part of two hours, it barely subsides. All as we watch the wayward young man John (Mark Wahlberg) come of age with his teddy bear (voiced by Seth MacFarlane). It’s a rite of passage that includes playing Nintendo, smoking pot, and appearing on The Tonight Show with Johnny Carson. (Ted’s magical gift of life turns him into a short-lived celebrity during a 1980s heyday). But there’s turbulence as John turns 35 and his girlfriend Lori (Mila Kunis) wants a level of commitment absent of plush BFFs.
As you might have guessed, this directorial and screenwriting debut by Family Guy creator MacFarlane, is all kinds of wrong. No one is safe here — not gays, Iranians, Bostonians, African Americans, ALS patients, or one-time stars of Flash Gordon. That’s to say nothing of Ted’s backroom romp with a supermarket check-out girl, his “Dirty Fozzie Dance” (look away Jim Henson, look away), and a hotel room fight scene that riotously obliterates any lasting image we have of Wahlberg as Mickey Ward. In short, Ted is obscenely funny.
Strangely though, it all comes with a tremendous amount of sincerity and heart. Wahlberg is infinitely endearing as the puppy-eyed John who is legitimately torn between his loyalties to his best bear friend and the girl he loves. His John is so innocently hapless he can be excused for risking life and love for Ted—especially when Ted reciprocates with an equally deep regard for their friendship. Theirs ranks among cinema’s best bro-mances. And this will rank as the year’s funniest, most clever comedy.
Jared Bowen is WGBH’s Emmy Award-winning Executive Editor and Host for Arts.
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