Ted is decidedly non-PC in its humour. Seth MacFarlane throws in gags that court a racial offensiveness, others that are not exactly gay-friendly and a great many that aim for the crudest common denominator. Just like in the scene where Ted mimics various sexual acts to Jessica Barth at the supermarket checkout, you get the impression that Seth MacFarlane is like a giggly teenage boy trying to see what kind of outrages he can get away with before any of it goes too far. He is akin to a stand-up comic who keeps getting laughs from his audience by circling around foul-mouthed and scatologically-focused humour but he makes the crucial mistake of thinking that saying something gross or that is considered taboo by polite society should be regarded as funny in itself. This can be side-splittingly funny when someone takes the time to construct a gag around it see the works of John Waters, Sascha Baron Cohen and South Park (1997 ). That said, in the midst of all of this, MacFarlane does get off a number of sarcastically amusing lines that are often undeniably funny.
MacFarlane often plays into the tender anthropomorphic imagery surrounding the teddy bear the scenes of Ted forlorn and alone get awwws from the audience and the next second punctures this with a sarcastic or less than child-like line. There have been other films and tv series based around the concept of talking animals or puppets doing decidedly adult things see the likes of Marquis (1989), Peter Jacksons Meet the Feebles (1990) and the tv series Greg the Bunny (2002, 2005-6). MacFarlane makes potshots at the 1980s sitcom ALF (1986-90) but when you think about it, that is exactly what Ted reminds of. Substitute a teddy bear for a smartass orange-furred alien and Mark Wahlberg for a standard sitcom nuclear family and the two would be almost identical. In this respect, the character of Ted is very much the regular sitcom character of the scene-stealer whose entire purpose is to turn up and get laughs with their wacky, outrageous, rule-defying behaviour or by firing off smartass one-liners and insults at everybody else. See other examples like Robin Williams in Mork and Mindy (1978-82), Rowan Atkinson in the various Blackadder series, ALF, Jaleel White in Family Matters (1989-98), John Lithgow in 3rd Rock from the Sun (1996-2001) even a more serious example like Hugh Laurie in House M.D. (2004-12).
For that matter, Ted feels more like it is a sitcom concept that it is a full-fledged film. Take the foul-mouthed teddy bear out of Ted and all that would be left would be a rather weak film here the premise is the film. Beneath the gags, the films story is an exceedingly traditional one Mark Wahlberg has the familiar arc of the boy-man who makes a belated realisation that he needs to take life seriously (even if, for all his effort, the resolution of the film has him and girlfriend Mila Kunis settling for the status quo that existed at the start of the film). All of the characters from the longsuffering girlfriend to the asshole love rival are standard, albeit occasionally outfitted with expectation defying one-liners.
I have always been in two minds about Mark Wahlberg as an actor. He has done some fine acting Fear (1996), Boogie Nights (1997) but seems to prefer roles where he chooses the part of a hometown boy, loyal to the people of the working class hood he grew up, who is also streetwise and with one foot in its underworld, something that one suspects plays into a certain fantasy Wahlberg has of himself as the street kid who has made an honest life and family man of himself. The one thing that seems lacking in Wahlbergs resume is anything in the way of comedy roles. Expectedly, Wahlberg gives the part of John here nothing more than the standard airing he would one of his serious roles. You cannot help but expect that Ted would have worked far better with a comedy actor, especially someone who specialises in playing parts of overgrown child-men like an Adam Sandler or a Seth Rogen.
The greatest fun the film seems to have is when it comes to its 1980s pop culture in-jokes montage shots with Ted and the young John doing scenes from E.T. The Extra-Terrestrial (1982) and numerous Star Wars references tucked away, including their attending Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace (1999) with Ted dressed as Yoda. (Seth MacFarlane is apparently a big Star Wars fan and made the famous Blue Harvest episode of Family Guy that parodies Star Wars (1977) using the series characters). Mark Wahlberg has a cellphone that plays the theme song from Knight Rider (1982-6) as a ringtone. There is even a sequence where he attempts to perform a version of All Time High, the theme song from the James Bond film Octopussy (1983). By far the greatest degree of pop adulation is reserved for Flash Gordon (1980) with the film even including an extended appearance from Sam Jones in full self-parody mode as himself and a dream sequence recreation with he and Mark Wahlberg flying through the skies of Mongo, not to mention a dubious racial sequence where Jones loses it because of a Chinese neighbour named Ming. Even more fun is had with the celebrity cameos, including appearances from singer Norah Jones, Tom Skerritt who is name-dropped throughout and turns up at the end in an amusing throwaway gag, and especially Ryan Reynolds who has several rather funny unspeaking appearances as Patrick Warburtons mystery boyfriend.
Seth MacFarlane and Mark Wahlberg returned with a sequel Ted 2 (2015).