‘Ted’: A very human story of friendship
Ratings: 4 stars out of 5
Let me be the first to admit a childhood incident that I swore never to divulge. When I was little, I made a wish that my teddy bear could talk. This was after my first day in kindergarten, when I realised that I had the social skills of a tree. Eddy, my teddy bear, was the one that I confided in the most. He was also the one I practiced my throwing, punching and wrestling abilities on because he was life-sized and light, and he was always by my side. That evening, after my first day in kindergarten, I told him that he could talk if he wanted to and no one would ever know.
As I grew up and made real friends, I eventually got rid of Eddy. But when Seth MacFarlane’s ‘Ted’ came along, it brought back memories of my Eddy and how ridiculous it would have been if we partied at Zouk or attempted to cure our hangover at a coffeeshop in Ang Mo Kio.
So it would be fair to say that I’m partial towards this film. ‘Ted’ resonates not only with those of us who made a wish that never came true, but also with those who treasure their friendships.
For 27 years, John Bennett (Mark Wahlberg) and his teddy bear, Ted (voiced by Seth MacFarlane), have been the best of friends. John is the poorly ambitious 35-year-old employee of a car-hire company. Ted is the cynical, foul-mouth ex-celeb whose main responsibility is to get the best marijuana out there and have unprotected intercourse-less sex with as many chicks he can get his paws on. Both have each other’s back. But as John’s four-year relationship with the high-flying businesswoman and reasonably compromising Lori Collins (Mila Kunis) reaches a higher plateau, his and Ted’s bond will be put to the test.
Sure, the plot rides in the same vein of a typical rom-com, but ‘Ted’ has a visceral aspect underneath all its wisecrack and crudeness. The bear shares similar traits to the rational troublemaker found in aviator-donning Steven Hyde from ‘That 70s Show’, a hint of Kristen Wigg’s Annie Walker character from ‘Bridesmaids’ and even a dose of Peter Griffin ― all who will do anything for their loved ones, managing to sort it out at the end of the day, albeit making one clumsy mistake after another.
Between domestic squabbles ― John’s difficulty of letting go of his eight-year-old self and Lori’s patience growing wearily thin ― Ted unassumingly plays both antagonist and protagonist in their relationship.
It all boils over when Lori finds Ted in their shared apartment with four hookers, one whom defecated on the carpet after playing truth or dare. “Ted got to go,” Lori demands while John finds himself having to make a choice between the love of his life and his ‘thunder buddies 4 life’ ― a tagline Ted and John created from their astraphobia (fear of thunder and lightning).
Over the course of the movie, Ted slowly grows into a character that is as real as that one important person in our lives. Ted makes up for his mistakes and destructive behavior by making sure John doesn’t do the same while not forgetting the magical friendship that kept together for the longest time. So when Ted moves into his own apartment and John walks off down the hallway, signifying their personal independence, it isn’t easy to watch. It’s one thing to see a bond being broken between humans, but another thing to see a teddy bear standing solemnly by the doorway as his only friend disappears.
Seth MacFarlane champions this distinctive brand of comedy. Beyond the silliness, the one-liners and the quick and, often, vulgar wit, Seth expounds everyday issues that we sometimes refuse to face, and softens the blow with a touch of crass humor, stretching the tools of his imagination in the process
In ‘Ted’, Seth pays homage to a dysfunctional relationship and how, even in our darkest days, there is light and more importantly, much hilarity to be had. I wonder what Eddy would have had to say about all this.
Entertainment writer Zul Andra (@zulandra) has his finger on Singapore’s nightlife and drinking pulse. He has also interviewed hundreds of local and international artists in the last five years from the likes of Carl Cox and Lamb of God to BBC TV presenter Simon Reeve. Previously a staff writer and web editor at I-S magazine, he currently writes for major hyper-local publications, The New Paper and inSing.com. Having expanded his reach regionally with articles in Travel + Leisure and Scoot in-flight magazine, he is also considered a respected opinion-maker with columns in JUICE and Esquire. His work has appeared in TODAY, Time Out Singapore, Nylon and ZIGGY, and maintains an award-nominated blog, Kiss My Culture.