It might be unfair, but it’s certainly inevitable that Ted is going to draw comparisons with Family Guy. And I would try to avoid it, other than the fact that it’s very much the same sort of material, only slightly distanced from the broadcasting standards that the TV show has to work with.
However, I happen to enjoy Family Guy, so the comparison is not necessarily a bad one.
The film is essentially turning the “a boy and his [X]” formula on its head by following the relationship well past the normal end-point of these stories. In doing this, it creates a good dynamic between Ted and John (Mark Whalberg), creating a co-dependent relationship that’s actually detrimental to a functional life. It’s understandable why Lori (Mila Kunis) would be so frustrated after four years of dating a man and by extension, his teddy bear, and if nothing else, the movie deserves credit for that.
What it doesn’t do fantastically is deliver humour based on the situations and story. Most of the jokes in the movie are gags that don’t fit in the narrative, and so it feels like a movie-length episode of Family Guy’s trademark non-sequiturs, with some vulgarity thrown in on top for added shock-laughter.
I also wish that Lori was better developed as a character, because she comes across as a perfunctory “interfering bitch” archetype. They set her up pretty early as being relatively OK with John and Ted’s friendship, and then have her catty coworkers convince her that she needs to get rid of Ted for the sake of it – it comes off as a pretty shallow motivation to get the plot-ball rolling down Narrative Hill, especially when it would have been easy to work in the frustrations from her perspective on its own.
Giovanni Ribisi as the creepy guy who just wants to own Ted is worthy of a laugh, but the introduction of his character really seems like the story ran out of steam in the first draft and then introduced him so we get a third act.
This isn’t to say it’s a bad movie at all, just that it kind of coasts along doing what’s easy. The gags are hit-and-miss, with the ratio skewed more towards the latter, but it’s an easy watch and even though its not quite the laugh-fest some people are making it out to be, it’s not a waste of time.
I enjoyed it enough, but with the premise and material at hand, it could have been great. Instead, it’s merely good, but kind of forgettable as a result. If you enjoy Seth McFarlane’s other work, you’ll probably like this. Whether or not you love it probably depends on how easily you’re entertained the rest of the time.