I don't think I've made it a secret on this blog that I hate Seth MacFarlane's shows - particularly Family Guy and The Cleveland Show. If you're a regular reader of my blog, you'll know this isn't because I object to gross-out humour or crass comedy. No, what I object to is bad comedy. Particularly bad comedy that everyone else seems to think is brilliant.
Speaking of which, Seth MacFarlane is bringing out a movie! Luckily, he's not subjecting us to Family Guy: The Movie (yet), but it's instead a movie called Ted, about a teddy bear who comes to life and does "funny" things. Behold, the official trailer:
(If you have a YouTube account, you may want to check out the restricted trailer as well - same gags, more swearing)
As you can see, the premise of the movie is that we have a teddy bear who acts like an asshole. He drinks, he smokes, he takes drugs. Oh, how hilarious. Did you see that bit where he mimed having sex? You see, it's funny because teddy bears are normally associated with innocence! How clever!
Okay, okay, let's calm down and start from the beginning.
So, as the trailer starts, we see a kid making a wish for his teddy to come alive. A voiceover explains that magic exists and that a young boy's wish is the most powerful thing on Earth (bad luck girls!). See, immediately we have a problem. Will the existence of magic be brought up again in the movie? I doubt it. You can't just do stuff that defies the laws of science, say "it's magic", and never discuss it again. Ted, unlike Harry Potter or Star Wars (other works of fiction with supernatural elements), seems to be set in our world. You can't just bring teddies to life because a kid made a wish! He doesn't even make a wish in a wishing well, or over a birthday cake - he just wishes! Is that the secret? If that's the case, I wish Seth MacFarlane had never been born.
Anyway, so the bear comes to life and we flash forward to when they're both grown up. We see Ted smoking drugs. Laughing yet? Then this flashes on the screen:
...which really is not something I'd be advertising if I was in charge of marketing this film. Then, finally we hear Ted speak and, I kid you not, it is the exact voice of Peter Griffin. Now, I'm not suggesting voice acting is easy, but couldn't he have picked ANY other voice? Of course not, we need to remind people at every possible opportunity that this film is by the same people guilty of Family Guy.
So then we see Ted driving (how his feet reach the pedals is never explained) and having an accident. "That's my bad - I was sending a tweet." You get it? He's mentioning Twitter, a website people use! How funny! Gosh, if that's the secret to comedy, then I guess all I need to do is walk around saying "Google, Facebook, YouTube, Yahoo, Wikipedia!" and I'll start getting movie deals.
Next we see the protagonist's boss say hello to the teddy bear. Wait, what? So the main character doesn't even hide Ted from the public? How is he not hugely famous? He has a teddy bear that talks - something that doesn't have a brain, skeleton or any internal organs is not only speaking, but DRIVING A CAR. Again, I'd like to point out this is supposed to be our world, not a fanciful one like Toy Story. We don't see any other walking, talking toys in the trailer, and I'm willing to bet my entire readership of three that there won't be any in the full film.
We see a quick gag of Ted touching a breast (get it? It's funny because normally women don't like you touching their breasts!) before seeing Mila Kunis urging the main guy to kick Ted out. Kick him out? Lady, are you nuts? Put the thing on television and make millions of dollars!
Cue more stuff that supposed to be funny because a teddy bear is doing it, not a person - hanging out with hookers, getting embarrassed by a hug - before we come to what has to be the worst part of the trailer, Ted miming having sex with a cash register scanner. I honestly cannot believe I just typed that. What's worse is that the girl he's doing this in front of finds it funny. Lord knows I'm no expert on women, but I guarantee that if I did that in front of a girl at work she wouldn't be laughing, she'd be screaming.
Behold, the height of comedy: an aroused teddy bear
Then, after the cast names flash across the scene, we see Ted and Mark Wahlberg get into a very violent fist fight, which is not only not funny or exciting, it's not even original - Family Guy did the same thing when Stewie beat up Brian in the 2006 episode Patriot Games. I realise in that instance it was a baby beating up a dog, but it is the same gag - something that's traditionally innocent, doing something very adult.
But this simply isn't funny. Comedy is supposed to defy your expectations, not just take something that traditionally does one thing and have it do another. Would it be funny if came up to you in the street and said "A vegetarian walks into a restaurant and orders a steak"? No, because there's no punchline. If I said "A vegetarian walks into a restaurant and orders a steak, and the waiter replies, 'Sorry, we're all out, there's a Hindu festival this time of year' ", then we're getting somewhere, because at least now we have a reversal of expectations and a punchline - though I realise it's not very good.
I think, dear reader, what offends me just as much as the bad comedy is the lack of originality here. I mean, Supernatural had a talking, alcoholic, suicidal teddy bear back in 2008. Now, I'm not saying just because something similar was done doesn't mean nobody else can try it, but Seth MacFarlane didn't even try to make an effort here. If you're desperate for good, original comedy involving a traditionally innocent creature doing naughty things, look no further than Wilfred - either the original version or the US remake. Wilfred is far from being excellent comedy, but it has its moments. What makes it so much better than Ted, though, is the fact that the dog can talk isn't just explained away by "magic" - in a rather clever bit of writing, it's up to the viewer to decide whether it's real, a hallucination, schizophrenia, alcohol or any number of other reasons.
Please, please, don't see Ted when it comes out. Seth MacFarlane has already ruined comedy on television - we don't want him to extend his poor, crass and unfunny writing to film as well. Once again, I'm not against crass comedy or toilet humour. What I'm against is bad writing.
© 2012 by The Free Man
(Oh, and before any of you idiots say, "THAT'S JUST YOUR OPINION!", I'd like to re-iterate that opinion may be subjective, but quality is not. There are probably people out there who think Epic Movie, Meet the Spartans and Disaster Movie are the greatest comedy films ever, but does that make them good films? No.)