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A Review & Analysis Ted

A Window into Seth MacFarlane's Head

There are a number of very endearing scenes in this movie. As you watch it over and over you, as with most unremarkable films, spot the scenes you really like and tend to jump back and forth between them in order to extract whatever potential joy there is from them.

I just watched the trailer for the first time and suffice to say that most of the best scenes are outlined, in full, in the trailer, although there are more explicit scenes in the uncensored DVD release and of course the monumental fist fight between the two is one for the books.

There are two main things to recognize and gather from this movie.

The first thing is that as unconventional, politically incorrect and trend breaking as Seth MacFarlane appears to be in his witty writing and no-holds barred approach to vulgar humor, as you will see when you watch this movie that along with his TV creations he is still petrified of truly breaking any real rules. He has found himself in a good position - he always stands close to, but some ways away from, the boundary of what is currently considered to be taboo content.

This drives the illusion that he is on the cutting edge of quick witted humor, and though his quick witted humor is good, in any sort of a deeper sense is it just a cosmetic overlay upon the same standard sort of formulaic interactions that exist in all movie and television productions nowadays. Ted, for example, follows an extremely standard storyline, is predictable (aside from the random jokes) and therefore is not unconventional in a general sense.

Onto point two, which is what makes Ted slightly unconventional.

In my opinion, Ted is a rather profitable manifestation of Seth MacFarlane's pursuit of happiness, and more importantly, a reflection of his unhappiness despite the vast amount of success he has.

Seth is quite obviously someone who is heavily nostalgic and strives to recreate in his world some essence of an innocence he misses from his youth. Perhaps it was the simplicity of playing video games, smoking weed, or just not having all the superficial complications that arise with being an adult, and especially an adult in his position.

Ted plays the part of a friend to him, one that has maintained its loyalty over the years, has even grown into adulthood but will remain loyal, friendly, and untouchably compatible with the central character (who Seth self-identifies with).

There are a number of conclusions you can make from this. Firstly, Seth likes to view himself as a simple guy with simple pleasures who is also attractive in that simplicity. People, unfortunately for Seth, are much more complicated than that so even though he wishes to be viewed as such and even behave as such, he is in fact always going to be complicated, which means he will be incompatible with lots of people he encounters. Added to this, which breaks the dream of Ted, is that even those people you grew up with hand in hand will grow to become complicated people, and in most cases, become incompatible with you.

Nevertheless, it is a good dream to have a loyal friend from birth till death - however even that loyalty is both tested and redeemed in artificially shallow manners in the movie. Without thinking about it the central character tells Ted to move out, and Ted agrees without so much as an argument. Such actions are not acts of loyalty, especially when they are done for the benefit of someone else's personal needs and desires (his girlfriend). Yet even though all that happens, both Ted and the central character remain friends, and Ted never holds a grudge.

In addition to these superficial interactions (including the fight) Seth wants to add to this ideal mix a supermodel girlfriend who remains somewhat irrelevant throughout his life. She takes a secondary position, without question, to both himself and Ted, and somehow at the end of the movie "That's all okay" - but does anyone think that it'll be okay a week from then? Not likely.

As you can see the biggest glaring problem with Ted is that it fools the viewer into thinking it is somehow relevant and cohesive with real life because of the quick jokes and writing, but this makes the very cryptic and harmful moral even more damaging, because it makes it seem harmless.

Seth wishes to have a supermodel girlfriend, a best friend that will never leave his side, but at the same time he doesn't want to have to be loyal to either, wants to keep doing what is fun to him while keeping in mind that he wants to grow up. He neglects the bear's natural psychological evolution, the girlfriends' needs, desires and weaknesses, and even the notion that not so good looking people can still have loyal friends and good relationships.

Of course you don't have to dig so deeply into a lot of different movies and the argument most fanboys will come up with is "this is a comedy... take it easy". But Seth MacFarlane has demonstrated that he is smarter than most other directors - he acknowledges the need for loyalty and friendship, yet despite this he does not expand it to include a more wholly healthy ideal of the world and instead wraps it around all the same superficial nonsense that actually promotes the loss of loyalty and innocence.

The end of the movie, the very end scene is a demonstration of this superficiality - the bear pretends to be retarded and rather than continue to be happy about him returning to life, the central character is so superficial he is actually considering the difficulty in taking care of a retarded friend.

If you were to watch that scene over and over, it would stop being funny over time and become increasingly painful, in fact, as the audience starts to understand that Ted may have joked about it because he knew it would be a problem for the central character.

Imagine Ted's "real" reaction to seeing the drop in Mark Wahlberg's eyes when he tried to accept the difficulty in taking care of a retarded friend.
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