You know when an artist comes out of nowhere and releases their first album and it’s good? Like really good. And you rush out to purchase it, as do millions of other people, you may even go along to their concert.
Then, a while later, they release their second album. You rush out to buy it with the same excitement you had when the first one came out. You get it home. You put it on and…what is this? Your ears are hearing something completely different, nothing like the first album, but nothing good either.
You rush to the internet and Google away, what could have happened you ask yourself. What are they playing at you wonder. And then you find the answer. You see usually the first album is heavily produced. They’re a new artist so they’ve had lots of writers ‘helping’ them. They’ve had lots of producers ‘assisting’ them. They may even have had some other artists performing with them.
This album though, the second one you’re listening to, the one assaulting your ears, this album is self produced, or perhaps this time the artist chose the producer. They wrote most of the songs themselves, binning the people who ‘helped’ them out last time.
The result? The result is usually that some people, usually the people who didn’t like the first album, will really like the second one. But those of us who liked the first, we won’t like the second one. The tone is different, the feel is different, everything is different.
This leads me on to Ted. Ted is written, directed and starred (voiced) by Seth MacFarlane, yes that Seth MacFarlane, the Family Guy man. Now it took me a while to get into Family Guy, I watched it, didn’t really like it, had a break then went back and now I really like it.
So it was with high expectations that I, and no doubt most people who know and like Family Guy, go into the movie. Most of us, I think, are realistic in that we’re not expecting Family Guy, but are we to blame if we think the humour will be the same? If we think it will be a laugh a minute like Family Guy? I don’t think so. We aren’t to blame, but we are wrong in our assumption.
The problem for me is that, whilst MacFarlane had help with the screenplay, this movie has the feel of that moment when an artist releases a self-produced album. No-one is around to tell them something isn’t working, no-one is around to say “hey, you know what. Let’s do it this way instead”.
Let’s start at the obvious point, MacFarlane decides to be the voice of Ted. His repertoire though, as we find out quite quickly, is limited. Ted sounds like Peter Griffin, in fact there’s even a joke in the movie about it. At one point Ted puts on a voice and turns into Stewie Griffin. Why not get someone else to voice Ted? It wouldn’t have hurt, there’s no reason I can tell for MacFarlane to do it. Patrick Stewart does the narration and it’s brilliant and it would have been brilliant to have heard someone else do the voice of Ted. It would have allowed people who know Family Guy and The Cleveland Show and American Dad to watch the film with more abjection.
The next issue is that, and this is tough to write, the movie just isn’t that good. The story is something we’ve seen before in a different, thinly veiled guise. It doesn’t feel like an extended version of any of MacFarlane’s other projects, but it doesn’t feel new either. Obviously except for the CGI teddy bear!
The story chugs along, it’s clunky in parts, MacFarlane zips over jokes as if he’s embarrassed by them and lingers on points that don’t need it.
Yes there are some genuinely funny moments, there’s an awesome cameo but it takes the movie off in a direction that leads nowhere. These sorts of moments work with Family Guy, but don’t in a movie. Giovanni Ribisi also puts in a great performance but is left out in the cold, the time from the cameo (I say cameo he’s in it a bit) would have been better spent on Ribisi’s character.
Wahlberg puts in a great performance once again, I don’t think there’s any doubting his comedic credentials anymore (if there was before) and Mila Kunis is good as well but ultimately the movie isn’t anywhere near as funny as I was hoping for. And that makes me sad, I’m off to hug my teddy bear to cheer me up.