I was told, ahead of watching this, that if I liked Family Guy, I’d love it; otherwise I might find it offensive. As I *quite* like that show but find it all too often mediocre rather than challenging, I was pretty ambivalent about it, though it had received good reviews. My first impressions, as Patrick Stewart gave an “It’s a Wonderful Life” meets “Little Britain Tom Baker” narration, were very positive, though this narration was a little underwritten and Patrick, bless his heart, hasn’t quite so fruity a voice as Tom, so the comic effect had faded away by the time the narration ended and the film proper started.
The set-up is that Mark Wahlberg’s John Bennett made a childhood Christmas wish that his teddy bear was real and would be his friend forever, John being the kid that the bullied kids bullied and having no friends at all. Of course, the wish comes true and, years later, John is in a dead-end job – though with a beautiful and successful girlfriend Lori (Mila Kunis) – but Ted is still around having been, for a while, a TV sensation but now a foul-mouthed has-been. John and Ted are still best friends but they are ‘treading water’ in life, with Lori concerned that Ted is holding John back but not wanting to interfere with their friendship.
There aren’t any great surprises in the plot, which is pretty routine (there is a sub-plot about a creepy father wanting to kidnap Ted for his creepy son, and a running joke about the ’80s film, Flash Gordon), and there are few, if any, real standout scenes and yet I found the whole thing funny, pleasant and – strangely – charming. I suspect that Wahlberg and Kunis playing it straight and MacFarlane giving Ted a pretty good comic character – and the animation is terrific – mean that the comedy comes through naturally, with no laugh track to interfere either and it rattled along nicely throughout.