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Ted (Blu-ray Review)

7 Dec, 2012 By: John Latchem

Street 12/11/12
Box Office $218.67 million
$29.98 DVD, $34.98 Blu-ray
Rated ‘R’ for crude and sexual content, pervasive language and some drug use. Unrated version also included.
Stars Mark Wahlberg, Mila Kunis, Joel McHale, Giovanni Ribisi, Jessica Barth, Alex Borstein, Ralph Garman, Patrick Warburton, Sam Jones. Voice of Seth MacFarlane.

Countless bedtime stories involve that magical relationship between a child and a beloved pet or toy brought to life through the power of the imagination. But when the adventure ends, what happens next? Sooner or later that kid has to grow up. And that’s the story Seth MacFarlane is more than happy to tell.

When 8-year-old John Bennett’s wish to imbue his teddy bear with life comes true, the world hails it as a miracle. There’s even a great bit where little Teddy visits “The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson,” thanks to the magic of seamless CG trickery.

But Ted’s celebrity status quickly fades, and years later 35-year-old John (Mark Wahlberg) and Ted (voiced by MacFarlane) wile away the hours watching the 1980 Flash Gordon movie and other hallmarks of obscure pop culture that appeals to those of MacFarlane’s generation. Ted is now a foul-mouthed, sarcastic, pot-smoking, boozing womanizer, much to the annoyance of John’s girlfriend, Lori (Mila Kunis, looking amazingly beautiful here). Leave it to MacFarlane to turn the conventions of chick flick sideways.

Ted is essentially a hybridization of Winnie the Pooh and Brian the talking dog from MacFarlane’s “Family Guy,” which is the biggest clue as to what to expect from this movie. And that’s a lot of simple conversations filled with observational humor and a steady stream of jokes that come close to crossing the line but are so earnest you can’t help but laugh anyway (just like any of MacFarlane’s shows, really).

The film’s best moments come in the interactions between John and Ted, though it suffers a bit from a kidnapping subplot that threatens to drag down the final act.

The visual effects are terrific, especially the little details in the Ted animation, right down to some rough patches where his fur has worn away. The making-of featurette details how the original design for the older bear was to make him almost a patchwork quilt of different fabrics to demonstrate how worn out he has become, but this was toned down considerably to make Ted more cute and less freaky. It was a wise decision.

Viewers also get glimpses of MacFarlane on the set, as he both directs the film and performs as Ted while wearing a makeshift motion-control harness that guides the CG animators.

The disc includes both the theatrical and unrated versions of the film, the latter running about seven minutes longer with scene extensions that add more jokes back into the film without really upping the raunch content. The Blu-ray includes additional deleted scenes and alternate takes, some of which feature a Ted that’s only partially animated, or early takes using an actual stuffed bear with a puppeteer to provide a reference shot.

Another highlight is the commentary with MacFarlane (his usual witty self), co-writer Alex Sulkin and Wahlberg (whose schedule forces him to leave about halfway through).

MacFarlane’s style may be an acquired taste, but if his brand of humor appeals to you, then Ted is a must-have on Blu-ray.

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