The new movie Ted, about a little boy’s teddy bear who magically obtains the ability to talk and subsequently grows up to be a coarse, foul-mouthed pothead, is not the most vulgar movie I have ever seen; but it is the most vulgar good movie I’ve ever seen. Mark Wahlberg and Mila Kunis play a young couple who live together in a relationship that basically works — except for the fact that Wahlberg’s character is continually encouraged into immature behavior by his incandescently profane teddy bear. The central concept of this movie — in both the onscreen product and the marketing campaign — is the boorish bear, whose dialogue is laugh-out-loud funny throughout. (A good test of a comedy is, how often did I laugh vs. how often did I think that part could have been funnier. On this test, Ted is a winner: The laughs significantly outnumber the misfires.)
But the part that really amazed me was how well the movie worked as a romantic comedy. The romantic comedy, at least in the U.S., is a rather sad genre, because it is usually neither romantic nor a comedy. (Be honest: How often are you really moved by the triumph of love in the lives of rom-com characters? And how often do the “jokes” in a rom-com really make you laugh?) That some people call these movies “chick flicks” is an insult to women; in my experience, women dislike bad movies every bit as much as men do.
In Ted, though, we have a genuinely moving story about a man who has to grow up to make his relationship work. Somehow, the context of an absurd fantasy tale makes the emotional issues stand out with greater clarity than they do in the typical, supposedly realistic relationship movie.
Ted also has a well-executed suspense plot, in which Giovanni Ribisi is excellent as a creepy father seeking to kidnap Ted to be his son’s playmate. The film’s depiction of working-class Boston is simultaneously a vicious satire on that place and its culture, and a love letter to it.
Anybody who likes well-written raunch will enjoy this movie thoroughly. But I cannot be insistent enough: If you are easily offended by sex, drugs, four-letter words, and/or political incorrectness of various kinds, do not see it.
UPDATE: It occurs to me that my concluding warning, while strong, was not strong enough. I should have said, “If you are ever offended by [any of those things] . . . do not see it.” And a special note to parents: Yes, the film has a character who is a teddy bear. NO, you should not take the kids to see it. I see on IMDB that there have been parents who have taken their eight-year-olds to see it. Please don’t do that. Take my word for it.