Seth Macfarlane, the brains behind Family Guy, stars as a teddy bear in his first full length feature, Ted, and manages to successfully translate the best aspects of Family Guy into an on-the-money socio-realist vs. fantastical melange about the life of a bear which happens upon a human existence. The wry farce is the neatest parody I ever remember seeing, effortlessly lashing between childhood fantasy, toilet humour and adult whimsy with excruciating effect.

Ted's coming into this world as more than just stuffing and buttons is thanks to a wish from young John, (Mark Wahlberg's character) who wants more than just an average bear. Ted's being alive fulfils John's dreams, but forms his parents' worst nightmare on Christmas morning: as he utters his first words, they scream "Get the gun! Get the gun!" This simple juxtaposition of childhood humour meeting adult terror carve merit from the intro and throw bones of recognition at a cinematic history of childhood parody which can only wish it got there first.

Macfarlane's musical partner in crime, Walter Murphy, composes an almost entirely fresh soundtrack; charming trinket-y sounds narrate the ironic twists, complimenting Macfarlane's exactitude and precision of comedic language and image. Other than these more natural filmic moments, though, there is an undercurrent running through Ted, a plethora of charming pop culture references which are perfectly MacFarlane; heaps of exacting social commentary displayed through sound.

Ted's jealous capturer, Donny, played with camp, hysterical horror by Giovanni Ribisi, is a terrifyingly creepy character, as is his 'son', who, as Ted notes, may or may not be Donny's lover. Ted is captured and locked away in suffocating conditions; but he manages to nab a peak through a doorway, seeing the capturer swinging his hips to Tiffany's "I think we're alone now".

This is one of many 80s references in a movie which makes no apologies in appealing to Macfarlane's age range. Flash Gordon basically narrates the movie, as the theme tune (and Flash himself) appear frequently to remind us of Wahlberg's protagonist John Bennett's childish dreams, which lay between himself and the ever-charming, ever reasonable "suffering wife", played by another of Macfarlane's Family Guy clan, Mila Kunis. There is even a scene which sees Wahlberg dart across the blue-screen-sky with Flash, eyes merrily wide as the twosome peruse the heavens to the hum-drum of the Gordon theme, referential bliss.

Norah Jones' 'Come Away With Me' charms a few times, and marries with narrative as, in a charming twist of fate, it turns out Jones is one of Ted's ex-lovers. Why the hell not? This convenient past foray paths the way for a hilarious 'backstage' scene with Jones and Ted, and also a charming live performance from the vocalist recorded especially for the movie. Her banter with Ted and Wahlberg shines in this special cameo which gets more surreal by the moment, climaxing with the esteemed singer telling Ted he was pretty darn good in bed.

Managing to involve the charming, embarrassing and plain nostalgic into one schmoozy treat of a scene, Jones uses her showbiz card and arranges for Bennett to steal her crowd and sing an awful version of James Bond classic All Time High to his unknowing wife, who is in the crowd. The track is pertinent for them both, and this off-key cover genuinely plucks at emotions which only the manliest can muster.

The 80s classic is obviously butchered by Bennett which provides for more laughs, I can't imagine a worse track to attempt as a Fresher and there's something sickening about hearing Wahlberg wail the high bits. But only sickening in the same way Christmas dinner is post-sitting; you know you don't really regret having sat through it.

This romp, pomp and ridiculousness climaxes with an idiotic but insatiable car chase across town in order to save Ted from Ribisi and his son-come-lover. As the bear scales the heights of a sports stadium, Walter Murphy's accompaniment is for a second anything but parody; as this insane plot somehow eats at our tentative whim, leaving us suspending, much like Ted, between mourning and celebration for the dangling life of our hero bear.

Ted is a pop-culture-fetish propelled by a bold original score and freakish usages of modern musical greats which shimmer in another light; often a ridiculous light, which is both funny and ravishingly compelling set aside this sharp script. Macfarlane's fantasy-adventure lays somewhere between a Spielberg-esque story tale and an acid trip, a concoction which evidently works very well indeed.

  • Ted Soundtrack Tracklist
  • 01) Everybody Needs A Best Friend | Norah Jones
  • 02) The Power Of Wishes | Walter Murphy
  • 03) Thunder Buddies For Life | W. Murphy
  • 04) John & Lori At Work | A Walk In The Park | W. Murphy
  • 05) Magical Wish | W. Murphy
  • 06) Rex’s Party (Everybody Needs A Best Friend) | W. Murphy
  • 07) The Breakup | W. Murphy
  • 08) Never Be Scared Of Thunder Again | W. Murphy
  • 09) Ted Is Captured | Raiders Of The Lost Ark | W. Murphy
  • 10) The Car Chase | Fenway Pursuit | W. Murphy
  • 11) Climbing The Tower | She’s Your Thunder Buddy Now | W. Murphy
  • 12) Saving Ted | Lori’s Wish | W. Murphy
  • 13) The Proposal | The Wedding | W. Murphy
  • 14) End Titles | W. Murphy
  • 15) Flash’s Theme | Queen
  • 16) Sin | Daphne
  • 17) Only Wanna Be With You | Hootie and the Blowfish
  • 18) Come Away With Me | Norah Jones
  • 19) All Time High (From the James Bond movie Octopussy OST) | Rita Coolidge
  • 20) I Think We’re Alone Now | Tiffany