Let me preface this review by saying that I can’t stand Family Guy. And for that reason I was pretty sure that I would dislike Ted as well. But I didn’t. In fact, I quite liked it. Which made me start to wonder why I liked this movie when I usually despise Seth Macfarlane’s other work. So for this review I’m going to look at why Ted works for me when Family Guy does not.
The first thing I will say is that I’m not a huge fan of crude humour. Okay, that’s not true, I like it if its done well. however Family Guy is crude simply for the sake of being crude and for pure shock value. Ted has a lot of that as well, particularly the cash register scene. But maybe its because its a teddy bear doing these crude things that they get away with it here, but I never found the crudeness distracting. And in the case of the above mentioned scene, quite hilarious.
A bigger reason I don’t like Family Guy is the random “humour” that permeates every episode. They like to thorw random stuff like obscure pop culture references and think its funny. The worst are when they do full song numbers with no comedic basis behind it. Now, random humour CAN be funny, as long as there is a comedic backbone to it. Look at Airplane and Naked Gun for examples. And even Family Guy can sometimes pull this off, like the Kool-Aid man scene from one of the earlier episodes. But often they are just reaching.
This is largely missing from Ted, which I was very happy about. There is still a “random flashback” screen that FG is so famous for, where they actually spoof the above-mentioned Airplane, which works well enough. But for the most part the humour was based more on wit and timing than just throwing stuff in their and hoping people laugh.
Another thing that bugs me is how the Macfarlane shows usually have characters like Brian, a dog who acts like a human. No one around treats him differently or questions the fact that there is a talking dog. But its just a cartoon you say? Yes, but the comedic value of him being a talking dog is lost if he just acts like a person anyways and that fact that he’s a talking dog is never touched upon.
Now, konwing the concept of Ted, I was sure this would be the biggest fault of the film. But they surprised me! They actually explained how Ted became a talking teddy bear and described the massive celebrity reaction which occurred from this. They actually explained why people just accept a talking teddy bear walking in their midst! And they actually play upon the fact that he IS a talking teddy bear for comedic value as well! Kudos, writers, kudos.
But the biggest reason I can’t stand Family Guy is it has no heart. This is why The Simpsons always has been and will be a better show. Sometimes Family Guy is so aloof I’m disgusted by how much the characters don’t care about each other. There is no evidence that Peter and Lois care about each other or their kids. The character’s disinterest in each other is supposed to be funny, but its not.
Ted does not have that problem. Even though he’s a crude, pot-smoking toy, its still very evident that Ted genuinely cares about John and John genuinely cares about him. And at the center of it all, I think that this is why this movie worked for me.