Family Guy creator Seth MacFarlane brings all the comic crudeness and pop culture satire of Peter Griffin and his scatological chums to his big screen debut, Ted, the surprisingly sentimental story of a fraternal romance between a thirty-something man-child and his magical teddy bear.

A short pre-credits sequence, sonorously narrated by Patrick Stewart, introduces John (played later by Mark Wahlberg), a lonely boy growing up friendless in the suburbs of snowy Boston. On Christmas night in 1985 John makes a wish on a falling star, yearning for just one pal in the world. Magically, his beloved teddy-bear Ted (voiced by MacFarlane) comes to life. The boy and his bear become best friends, promising to always be there for one another through thick and thin.

John isn’t the only person who loves the talkative stuffed toy. The novelty of a real live teddy turns Ted into a celebrity overnight with a Forrest Gump-like montage showing his rise and fall from chat-show couches to handcuffed walks of shame. Back in Boston and doing nothing all day but smoke marijuana, lay about on the couch and continue arresting John’s development, Ted is at a loose end. More than that, he’s become a bit of a pest, particularly where John’s high-flying girlfriend Lori (Family Guy cast member Mila Kunis) is concerned. Short version, she wants her man to grow up and wants Ted stuffed in a box and thrown in an attic somewhere.

MacFarlane’s animated output has been criticised for favouring easy pop culture references over trickier character-based comedy, but the funniest stuff in Ted derives from the relationship between the Wahlberg’s innocent child-man and his adorably maladjusted teddy bear. Having never evolved beyond the nursery, the two characters are content to hang out and mess about with MacFarlane revelling in that easy, uncomplicated friendship, a chemistry that carries the story over the bumps in the inconsistent plot.

The romantic triangle that comprises the plot isn’t exactly earth-shatteringly original, but its MacFarlane’s unique comic trimmings that give the film its edge. Although Ted isn’t a million miles from Peter Griffin – at one point referencing the fact they sound awfully alike – MacFarlane has an enthusiast’s zeal for politically incorrect comedy and the perfect conduit in the seemingly innocent bear. The script’s targets run the gamut: sex, religion, race, drugs and endless pop culture references including a running joke about the pair’s abiding affection for Mike Hodges 80s camp sci-fi Flash Gordon and a cameo appearance from its one-hit wonder leading man, Sam Jones. For fans of the ten seasons of Family Guy, none of this will come as a shock, although the novelty of the material being delivered by a three foot tall talking teddy is not insignificant.

Freed from the restrictions of the television censors, with a 16 certificate MacFarlane can do and say what he likes. And he does. Live action filmmaking also gives him the chance to show that he can work with real actors, and he does this pretty well too, nimbly combining the real world with the computer-animated Ted and making the central relationships, between life-long friends and Kunis’s no-nonsense Lori feel real and well developed. What proves more difficult is turning 23 minutes of a cartoon episode into an hour and a half of cinema, which requires a different tempo and a more focused attention span, with the film sagging distractedly in the middle. But for all that, Ted is consistently funny, in a summer where so many other comedies have failed to raise a laugh.

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