TED – Peter Griffin in a bear costume

It’s been another few months since my last blog post. I’m sure you’ve all been waiting for this with bated breath, but I must quickly acknowledge my biggest fan for always sticking with me through my busy schedule and for believing in my ability to bounce back from the last flop of a blog post. Thank you, me!

Moving on swiftly like a line of Charlie up Charlie Sheen’s nose, my next foray into the realm of the film review is Seth McFarlene’s film, the socially acclaimed, TED. A simple and intriguing concept which ultimately falls short of having anything like the longevity of the cult classic comedies such as Anchor Man: The Legend of Ron Burgundy – the best comedy of the last decade or so.

I assess films in several quite simple criteria and one of my first necessaries for a comedy is the number of times I laugh out loud. Now to put this is context for you, I enjoy all sorts of humour from slapstick to the very dark so have no particular bias towards any particular comedy genre. TED clocked up quite a few points on the chuckleometre and there was an even spread between the witty dialogue and the sight of a Teddy Bear humping inanimate objects. One of the very opening lines was my favourite, read artfully by Patrick Stewart, it goes as follows: “now, if there’s one thing you can be sure of… it’s that nothing is more powerful than a young boy’s wish. Except for an Apache helicopter. An Apache helicopter has machine guns and missiles. It’s an unbelievably impression complement of weaponry. An absolute death machine”.

Although this is a Seth Mcfarlene flick and TED is voiced by the same guy as Peter Griffin (which takes a little getting used to at first), this isn’t Family Guy – and you might be forgiven for thinking otherwise from the line I just quoted! There is a fairly strong if unimaginative plot involving the protagonist attempting to break away from his old life as a pot smoking bum, into a stable loving relationship with his woman. Whilst beautiful in this simplicity it also leaves room for some great and endearing humour between two best buds and a couple in love. There was one niggling doubt present throughout the film that I couldn’t shake, kinda how we always doubted Jimmy Saville . Boom! Yes an incredibly forced Jimmy Saville reference! The protagonist – John Bennett’s social dilemma is one that most men can appreciate but there is strong gap in the story of the love triangle between John, Lori and TED. The gap is personal conflict, that old friend, jealousy.

Throughout my very short adult life I have never been in, or seen a relationship triangle blossom into a harmonious situation – I’m sure many Mormons can testify to a similar experience. There is always competition for attention usually between the best friend and the girlfriend which ultimately results in tragedy – usually the best friend being booted. I’ve been on both sides of this so am speaking from some experience in this matter. In TED the friend is given the heave ho but along with a fluffy outer exterior TED also seems to have ample quantities of unselfish wisdom. This is conspicuous by its contrast to the rest of TED’s personality which reveals exaggerated crassness and machoism (partly for comic effect). TED understands the importance of his best friend’s relationship and tries to move on and also seems to understand that he is burden who needs to get lost so John and Lori can lead a normal life. How very understanding if not mildly unbelievable. But I think this is the crux of why TED left me with a minor touch of frustration.

This scenario works in the film in part because of a solid performance from Mila Kunis who in addition to being outstandingly beautiful, also appears to be blossoming into something of an actress. But in reality I feel that the screenplay for TED is driven to some extend by the target audience which of course is the wrong way round – but the right way round, if you want to make lots of money. I sense the hands of the anti-artists at work – the money grabbers and penny pushers – AKA bankers. By allowing no personal conflict between Lori and TED, the script appeals to both men and woman who traditionally will be at loggerheads over the boyfriend, girlfriend, best friend point. Should a man be able to stay young and immature forever?

Of course the answer is no, men shouldn’t, but there are certainly many many precedents for men resisting this fact of life, and also friends getting involved and ultimately shooting themselves and their best friend in the foot. For this reason TED is in the middle between a no holes barred, laugh out loud, outrageous comedy like Superbad and a more subtle moral comedy like Four Lions. TED isn’t quite one thing or the other and for this reason it seems to fall a nats wing short of being a solid 8+ out of 10. Instead TED is stitched to the better than average but ultimately forgettable film canvass which is a shame. It’s always sad seeing comedy fall short of its full potential and it seems once again the box office dollars (producers) have interfered.

That said, definitely do watch TED if you get a chance. It is a film that everyone can enjoy, but it sadly won’t be a love that lasts forever. Another more attractive and more hilarious prospect will inevitably come along and give it the boot in due course. However, I’m excited by the prospect of Seth Mcfarlene’s next foray into film, whenever that may be.

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