Blu-ray review: ted (Universal)

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Ted Blu-ray Combo Pack

This past summer, “Family Guy” creator Seth MacFarlane continued his world domination with his film directorial debut. ted was a huge commercial success at the box office, and it’s no surprise why—MacFarlane nailed it, creating a hilarious kids’ movie for grown-ups that perfectly blends whimsy with raunch.

Mark Wahlberg plays John, whose boyhood wish that his beloved teddy bear come to life came true. Ted grew older with John, and now the bear is out of hand—a drinking, drugging, horny waste of fluff. And although both have aged, neither character has matured, and that’s the problem. John’s girlfriend (the ever-adorable Mina Kunis) is getting tired of life with the eternal adolescent and his stuffed partner in crime.

So Ted has to get a job, and move out on his own, and … well, you just have to see it. One of the cool things about ted—and this is pointed out by MacFarlane in a bonus feature—is how it’s no big deal to anyone in the film that a sentient, living, talking teddy bear is just walking around in the real world. He’s just another person.

John’s struggle to break away from his filthy-mouthed, stuffed roommate provides ample comic setups that usually pay off. MacFarlane directs ted with the assured hand of a master comedy filmmaker. And his performance as the bear—both voice and motion capture—is crucial to why the film works so well. Ted’s voice, with a heavy Boston dialect, may be close to that of Peter on “Family Guy”, but it’s hard to imagine another voice coming out of that cute little bundle of mischief.

The film pays ample homage to one of the all-time great cheezy movies, the 1980 sci-fi camp-fest Flash Gordon, with lots of screen time for the star of that film, Sam Jones, as well as a generous portion of that movie’s over-the-top songs by Queen used here to further resonate with the cult classic.

The Blu-ray and DVD discs in the combo pack both include unrated and rated versions. Having not seen this in theaters, I couldn’t tell you the difference, but the unrated one is longer and probably filthier. That’s the version I went with, and I didn’t sense there was anything in it that was extraneous or that the film would be better off without. Every scene has comic punch and moves the story forward. For example, you wouldn’t want to miss Ted’s tryst with a co-worker (yep, he gets a job) in a supermarket’s storage fridge.

The bonus features are interesting and a nice accompaniment to the film. One feature on the making of the film shows how the cast usually acted to a pole with eyes on it, or sometimes a hand puppet, as Ted was animated in later. But to his credit, MacFarlane did his motion capture and voice acting on set for real-time interaction with the actors.

Although it takes place on earth and doesn’t involve aliens or superheroes, ted is a special-effects film—the bear’s practically in every scene, and the clean Blu-ray mastering shows how seamless a job the filmmakers have done. The disc’s punchy sound delivers the dialogue and music from Walter Murphy (“A Fifth of Beethoven”) and Queen in vivid 5:1 surround.

Sure, it’s a silly concept that is never explained, but a bear coming to life is the core idea of a hysterically funny Blu-ray ideal for a fun night with your not-easily-offended friends.

I’m not much of a “Family Guy” guy—never got into the show, and the little I’ve seen hasn’t impressed me much—but its creator’s very clever new creation ted is a riot.

Buy Ted (Two-Disc Combo Pack) on Amazon
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