Studio: Universal Pictures
Director(s): Seth MacFarlane
Cast: Mark Wahlberg, Mila Kunis, Seth MacFarlane
Run Time: 106 minutes
Theatrical Release: 06/29/2012
MPAA Rating: R
MPAA Explanation: for crude and sexual content, pervasive language, and some drug use
Common Sense Says: Extremely vulgar comedy also has some genuine sweetness.
Common Sense Rates It:
Parents need to know
Parents need to know that Ted was co-written and directed by Seth MacFarlane, creator of edgy cartoon TV series Family Guy. Without the constraints of network TV, MacFarlane has taken off the gloves and created an extremely vulgar movie, filled with wall-to-wall foul language, racial and ethnic jokes, sexual innuendo and references, some nudity and partly shown sex, and a violent fight scene. Characters drink beer and smoke pot regularly, drink harder alcohol occasionally, and even try cocaine (the negative effects are shown). There are also tons of pop culture references, as well as a few product references, including beer, junk food, and video games. But on the upside, the characters have genuine heart and work hard to become better people.
- Families can talk about how Ted depicts drug and alcohol use. Why do John and Ted smoke and drink so much? What are the real-life consequences of substance use/abuse? Are those consequences clear in the movie?
- What does it mean to be a grown up? How do the characters show that they're moving from being children to becoming responsible adults? Is it hard to take that step -- to "throw away childish things" and become adults?
- Does this movie reinforce stereotypes, or does it make fun of them?
What's the story?
As a child, John Bennett makes a Christmas wish for his new teddy bear to talk and be his best friend forever -- and it comes true. Many years later, John (Mark Wahlberg) is now 35, and though they're still best friends, the bear, Ted (voiced by Seth MacFarlane) has become a bad influence; together, John and Ted spend their time sitting on the couch, making jokes, watching movies, and smoking pot. John's girlfriend, Lori (Mila Kunis), likes Ted and loves John but would really like him to grow up. Unfortunately, John makes one mistake too many, just as a crazed collector (Giovanni Ribisi) kidnaps Ted. Can John get his friend back and straighten out his life?
Is it any good?
Usually, Seth MacFarlane's type of humor -- pop-culture references mixed with vulgar shock humor -- will instantly kill a movie. But with TED, MacFarlane has done what There's Something About Mary did: He has made an over-the-top comedy with genuine heart. As ridiculous and as silly as Ted's three characters are, they actually care for one another, and their bond comes through.Moreover, rather than just telling a story about a vulgar character getting a neurotic one to "loosen up," Ted celebrates the notion of becoming a responsible adult. And while so many movies are about dumping the "wrong girl" before she ruins the hero's life, in this one, John learns to communicate with -- and tries to deserve -- the girl he already loves. As for the humor, though it's frequently shocking and offensive, it's rarely hateful or angry. The characters mostly make fun of themselves. Fortunately, much of that humor is hilarious, and the movie's unexpected warmth makes up the rest.
The Good Stuff
Messages: Buried beneath all the vulgar humor is a message about the benefits of growing up and becoming responsible -- though not necessarily wildly successful. Ted doesn't necessarily celebrate being rich as it does simply being happy and being with the ones you love.
Role Models: He swears, drinks, and does drugs, but John also learns to be responsible and to "become a man" (i.e. a grown up) in order to deserve the woman he loves.
What to watch out for
Violence Ted and John have a knock-down, drag-out fist fight, destroying many of the objects in a hotel room. Ted whips John's bare bottom with a radio antenna. In one quick scene, Ted plays the "knife game" with a person's fingers, accidentally stabbing him on the hand. A little blood is shown. Other scenes of fighting, slight wounds, and arguing. Jokes about rape.
Sex: Heavy, heavy sexual content and innuendo, including a partly-obscured shot of Ted (the teddy bear) having sex with a human woman. The bear flirts with a girl by thrusting up against a cash register and then squirts hand cream on his face. One woman's naked breasts are shown. Part of Mark Wahlberg's naked bottom is shown. The main couple, who have been in a relationship for four years, are seen kissing and caressing each other. A close up of "Lance Armstrong's bronzed nut."
Language: Language is constant, strong, and extremely vulgar. This includes many uses of "f--k" and "s--t," as well as "Jesus" (as an exclamation), "oh my God," "douchebag," "douche," "ass," "a--hole," "motherf---er," "p---y," "t-ts," "c--k," "son of a bitch," "bastard," "d--k," "hell," "crap," "goddamn," and "whore." There are also many racial and ethnic slurs, as well as extremely crude and off-color jokes about topics like rape.
Consumerism: Several products are shown and/or referenced, including Budweiser beer, Michelob beer, Nintendo, PlayStation, Pop 'Ems, Sugar Corn Pops, Pepperidge Farm, Teddy Ruxpin, and more. Many, many movies and TV shows are also mentioned and/or shown, including Flash Gordon (1980), Bridget Jones's Diary, and Cheers.
Drinking, drugs & smoking: The two main characters regularly smoke pot and drink beer recreationally. The main characters try cocaine for the first time at a party; the negative effects of this are shown. Characters also drink shots of hard liquor and champagne at a restaurant. No one is shown to have a problem or an addiction, and no drug dealers are shown.