Friday, June 29, 2012

Ted [2012]

MPAA (R)  CNS/USCCB (O)  Roger Ebert (3 1/2 Stars)  Fr. Dennis (2 Stars)

IMDb listing -
CNS/USCCB review -
Roger Ebert's review -

Ted (directed and cowritten by Seth MacFarlane along with Alec Sulkin and Wellesley Wild) is one of those films that reminds one of the reality that in a free society, "the arts" (and I do use the term very, very loosely here ;-) and religion/morality are going to find themselves at times in independent spheres / "different worlds."  Yes, religion certainly has every right to comment on the arts as the CNS/USCCB does on its website, and I am doing here).  But there will be times when the "artist" will tell the religionist "to just go to Hell."   There will be times that the religionist will have a point in his/her criticism of the artist's work, most notably if the artist's work advocates some sort of violence against someone or some other group or advocates some sort of fundamental selfishness or crime.  But _in a free society_, there will also be times when the artist (and the general society) will tell the religionist to "lighten up" or simply gleefully ignore him/her.

Such then is the case here with Ted  Yes, the film is crude and often in truly imaginative ways:  One of the opening scenes of the movie has Ted (voiced by Seth MacFarlane) the film's miraculously "living" teddy bear talkin' trash (in a Bostonian err Bah-stone-ian accent) and "doing a bong" with his life-long but now "grown-up" 35-year-old human best friend John (played by Mark Wahlberg).  With this scene, the film both intentionally and effortlessly "swan dives" into a CNS/USCCB "O" (morally offensive) rating ... only 2-3 minutes into the film.  But it's clear as day that the cast and crew of the film would wear that "O" rating as a badge of honor.

What then is someone like me to say or do with a film like this?  Well, in good part, one could note the rating (R -- and yes, Parents, the film definitely deserves it) and then concede "that's life."  The film is NOT intended for kids.  It is crude, it is stupid, it is certainly "not for everybody."  But after noting all this, the film does "have a point" that's actually a good one, and is actually expressed in language that one who may need to hear the point being made would understand.

I say this because the film is about a "man-boy" John Bennett (as noted above played by Mark Wahlberg), who _may_ have had some difficulties as a kid (don't most ... if one searches for them) but is now 35, hence "grown-up."  Indeed, he has a lovely girl friend, Lori Collins (played by Mila Kunis) of four years.  But actually he _can't_ seem to "grow up."  Ted, that walking-trash talking "teddy bear" from his childhood is THE SYMBOL of his inability to actually step-up and become a man.

And one thing that this film does a great job with (something that perhaps _a lot_ of John Bennetts in this world don't necessarily realize) is that it shows what LORI is dealing with.  SHE has friends/coworkers (and even a lecherous boss at work) and SHE finds herself having to defend JOHN to them (who all think that John's a "going nowhere" loser).  One could say that "it's none of their business, who Lori dates."  And that's partially true, but isn't it a lot easier to be dating someone who one _can_ present to friends/co-workers and actually be proud of? ... John's happy but perpetuately stoned face, going no-where job, and "teddy bear" don't give Lori much to be proud of ...

So that's then the central conflict of the movie in a nutshell.  And honestly, the situation described (yes, in exaggerated terms ... NO ONE has a "talking" or even "trash talking" teddybear) is real.  There are a lot of people who "don't want to grow-up..."

So if one puts aside the "trash talk" (and more ... but all still, basically "atmospherics" ...) the film is actually pretty serious, even as it is funny.  And may actually "speak the language" of folks who need to hear it ;-).

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