Fans of Seth MacFarlane are familiar with the politically incorrect humor that has made him the world’s highest-paid television writer (“The Family Guy,” “American Dad,” “The Cleveland Show”) and a popular emcee at the raunchy Friar’s Club roasts. They should strap on their seat belts for his first movie, which takes full benefit of the R rating to include outrageous and offensive humor in every category plus a lot of pop culture references. Nothing is sacred here, except the need to make jokes about anything anyone has ever thought sacred. The “oh, no, he didn’t” factor may have them falling out of their seats. Or maybe just the laughter.
Mark Wahlberg, who deserves acting and good sportsmanship awards for this film, plays 35-year-old John, a guy who spends his life smoking weed with his talking teddy bear, Ted (voice of co-screenwriter MacFarlane). This is not a pull-the-string-hear-the-recording talking teddy bear. This is a teddy bear that talks because when John was a bullied, friendless eight-year-old, he made a Christmas wish that came true and promised Ted that they would be best friends for life.
John and Ted are very adult — as in “for adults only,” not as in “mature” when it comes to their pleasures and vocabulary but perpetually juvenile when it comes to things like responsibility and downright childish when it comes to thunderstorms. John’s one brush with actual adulthood is his relationship with Lori (Mila Kunis). He loves her dearly. She loves him, too, and does not mind that he has no education or ambition. But living with the bear is getting on her nerves, especially when she comes home to find him surrounded by hookers.
Most of the movie is repeated jokes about the incongruity of a cute teddy bear with a foul mouth and an flurry of pop culture references and surprise cameos. But some of them are truly hilarious, especially two people named Jones. If there was an Oscar for being a good sport, they’d both win.
Parents should know that this film has intentionally offensive and provocative humor with constant human and ursine bad behavior in every category including very strong, graphic, and offensive language, homophobic and ethnic humor, explicit sexual references and situations, male and female nudity, drinking, drug use, comic violence including stabbing, and fights.
Family discussion: Why was it hard for John to grow up? What made Ted so important to him?
If you like this, try: Seth McFarlane’s animated television series, “The Family Guy,” “The Cleveland Show,” and “American Dad” – and “Flash Gordon”