By Bianca Ozeri
You’ll like Ted if you’re a chunky seventeen year-old boy, a middle aged man with a blue collar job, or if you resemble my brother, Superbad, because those are the people whom I derogatorily imagine worship the situational comedy. And Ted is a two-hour sitcom that I was over by minute 30, the duration that a sitcom should be.
(Actually, Superbad, a talented filmmaker, found Ted as mediocre as I did.)
At Superbad’s behest, we arrived a half hour early to the theater. And it paid off because I sat center row in those get-to-put-your-feet-up-on-that-weird-barrier-separating-the-stadium-seats-from-the-shitty-seats seats for this awesomely unexceptional film! Superbad bought Air Heads. But only because I begged him to get something healthier than nachos.
Waiting for previews, we kicked our feet up and answered those outdated, multiple choice show business questions. I kicked myself for getting them wrong and then I kicked Superbad for getting them right. My brother, to his dismay, is often the victim of my slapstick comedy (secretly, we all know he loves it though). I sparked up a conversation about our great seats with the lifeguard-kind-of-sexy man next to me, but made it quick because Superbad gets jealous when I don’t pay attention to him.
Despite that I’m more of a Mike Judge lady (marry me, Peggy Hill) than a Seth MacFarlane gal, I was jittery waiting for the film. I had heard noteworthy buzz and was excited to laugh my ass off for two hours, which was promised me by a friend who looks like my brother. Claire Hoffman’s New Yorker profile on MacFarlane made endearing the modest, log-cabin dweller turned Hollywood maverick who plays the piano everyday after work and has dated Amanda Bynes. I was curious, prepared for a comedic stunner.
Well, no expectations are still the best expectations, aren’t they? Before I hate on its redundant pop cultural elitism, ineffectual lewd jokes, and superfluous, painfully predictable ending, I’ll give Ted this: it was smart. Though, that intelligence, for me, required the film’s mediocrity, so it’s probably not the smart that MacFarlane intended. Ted was a reflection of it’s main character: an inanimate, culture-obsessed object come to life and fame that will, when its stardom dies, mourn its own banality.
I like that MacFarlane tried for originality via a hackneyed framework. Friendless Catholic boy — hated on even by the neighborhood Jew victim — wishes life for his teddy bear isn’t exactly pioneering. Wish comes true and wholesome Teddy with castrato voice turns bong-hitting, transgressive, fuckable (despite a lack of genitals) Teddy with Giovanni Ribisi stalker, is — kind of.
But irony isn’t all it takes to make something great. I’m not sure what it would have taken to make Ted great, but there was certainly some substance missing. The jokes, most of which were cultural and most of which I fake laughed at because I wanted to feel included in the audience, became rote by the second hour. Some failed plainly for their subject matter, others for their timing, but most just felt inauthentic. I know the pop culture elitists very well and they don’t make nearly as many references as John Bennett did because they know they’ll get punched in the face. (I must say though, John wasn’t really an elitist, he just seemed to really get off on TV).
I have an absurd and shameful desire to have sex with Mark Whalberg (blame it on that time I saw Boogie Nights when I was 13), and John Bennett was adorably pitiful, so I wouldn’t wish that upon him, but by the time he socked the fat kid and said, “someone had to go Joan Crawford on that kid’s ass,” I was using my last Air Head as a stress ball instead of a tasty cinema treat. (When I ate it, it was delicious: soft and warm and coated in my palm sweat, which added a lovely tincture of salt to the candy.)
Another major issue I had with the movie was Mila Kunis’s roll. I expected the usual misogynistic humor from MacFarlane — the girl who’s there to be pretty and tolerant and laugh at all the not funny jokes because they’re made by her boyfriend. But I am enraged when a character is written as ostensibly independent, strong-willed, feministic, and aware of a fucking shitty boyfriend when she sees one, only to end up back in his arms which are totally undeserving of her.
I preferred Ted’s white trash girlfriend, Tami-Lynn, because she claimed to be exactly what she was — a white trash girlfriend whom Ted fucks with some phallic vegetable, I can’t remember which, in the stockroom of a supermarket. I think it was a zucchini.
Lori though, was completely untrue to herself. She complained the whole fucking movie about her developmentally arrested boyfriend, only to rescind all of her previous anger — which was indeed warranted — and miraculously realize that she didn’t really give a fuck that her man was more in love with his talking teddy bear than her. When Ted dies, Lori wishes for him back (Also, in what world do we get a shooting star every time we gaze dramatically out the lone hallway window?). He wakes up in the morning and John, ever grateful, exclaims, “You wished for his life back…” “I didn’t,” she fucking says, “I wished for my life back.” Fuck you, Lori.
Speaking of this scene, I now know what would have made Ted great — or, if not great, than at least better. Ted should have woken up a girl, instead of fake retarded. The movie should have ended on his doomed countenance at the listen of his own vile joke in the luring voice of say, a young Lauren Bacall. Not only would it have been more clever than John and Lori skipping out church doors in wedding attire, but it would have set MacFarlane up for what could be an equally mediocre sequel that would make him more millions off dimwit Americans like myself who would probably still go see it in theaters.
That said however, don’t go see Ted in theaters. If you’re keen on a viewing, wait for it to come out on DVD so you can sit on your couch and smoke your bong, and ensure that you’ll forget the movie a few weeks down the line because you were high when you watched it.
Superbad and I sure wished we were high when we watched it. Instead of in a blasé daze, we left the theater utterly disappointed. As we filed out, amidst countless “so fucking funny”s, Superbad filled me in on the four references I didn’t get. He told me where he thought the film collapsed and we commiserated on our mutual dissatisfaction. As we climbed down the ninety-six escalators required to exit the Battery Park Cinema, we discussed his infinitely superior pilot script for an animated half-hour sitcom. You’ll see it, I’m certain, one day. You’ll love it. Or so help me God, you’ll love it more than Ted.