Understandably marketed using its most broad appeal elements, Ted turns out to be a surprisingly idiosyncratic, inventive directorial debut from Family Guy creator Seth MacFarlane. Even if you’ve avoided Family Guy like the plague since it debuted in 1999 (I plead guilty), Ted may win you over with its marriage of MacFarlane’s cartoonish humour and a more relatable live action reality. Rather than simply exploit the film’s premise—a young boy’s teddy bear comes to life and they remain close friends well into adulthood—for its basic absurdist potential, MacFarlane and co-writer Alec Sulkin offer an ironic twist, giving Ted a decidedly kid-unfriendly personality: he’s a foul-mouthed, drug-abusing womanizer. By infesting a character of inescapable cuddliness with these unsavory dimensions, they discover surprisingly fertile comic terrain. However, the film’s greatest triumph is its preoccupation with Mike Hodges’ 1980 cult masterpiece Flash Gordon, which is referenced repeatedly—to hilarious effect. While Mila Kunis is lumbered with a thankless buzz-kill-girlfriend role and the humour occasionally veers too far into tastelessness, MacFarlane delivers an undeniably amusing, original, and well-crafted directorial debut.
The Blu-ray for Ted features a surprisingly strong HD transfer, which serves the film’s title character especially well. His fur is presented with tremendous sharpness and clarity, without sacrificing the sense of warmth that so crucially compensates for his coarse behaviour. Extras include a commentary by MacFarlane, Sulkin, and Wahlberg, a 25-minute making-of, a gag reel, 15 minutes of deleted scenes, 10 minutes of alternate takes, and Teddy Bear Scuffle, a behind-the-scenes look at the film’s memorable hotel room fight sequence.