Seth MacFarlane conquered the television world with Family Guy, a fairly common animated family sitcom whose politically incorrect humor and constant pop culture references made it a massive hit (and gave MacFarlane several other shows). With his new movie Ted, MacFarlane writes, directs, and voices his own story of a childhood fairy tale gone in a very grown-up direction.

The movie begins in 1985, when lonely Boston boy John Bennett wishes that the teddy bear he got for Christmas was alive. The wish comes true -- Ted lives! Over the years, Ted becomes a celebrity for a time, before being forgotten. And in the present, John (Mark Wahlberg) and Ted (voiced by Seth MacFarlane; at least the movie has the self-awareness to point out how much Ted sounds like Peter Griffin) are still "thunder buddies," best friends who like to drink, get high, swear (a lot), and throw parties.

But John also has a girlfriend. Lori (Mila Kunis) and John have been dating for four years, and she thinks Ted has been keeping John from growing up and moving on with his career (at a rental car place) and his life. So Ted moves out, getting a job as a cashier (and oddly doing better the more he insults his boss) and dating the white-trash Tami-Lynn (Jessica Barth). But John and Ted keep hanging out, to Lori's exasperation. Then there's Rex (Joe McHale), Lori's boss who keeps hitting on her; and the creepy Donny (Giovanni Ribisi) with his fat son Robert (Aedin Minks), who want to buy Ted away from John.

Ted really, really feels like a slightly more cohesive version of Family Guy. While the movie doesn't have any random flashbacks, it does have wildly inappropriate humor (covering everything from obesity to Lou Gehrig's disease to 9/11), plenty of cursing, a musical number of sorts, and potshots at whatever celebrities MacFarlane feels like mocking. (A few of these celebrities show up in the movie, poking fun at themselves.) The cast (quite a few of whom are regulars on MacFarlane's carious shows) is good (though Kunis, as the most responsible person in the movie, gets the most respect and least laughs), and there are quite a few laughs to be found here. Overall, though, Ted feels far too much like a MacFarlane show (something not helped by the large number of actors from his shows) to feel original, and the initial setup of a children's story (narrated by Patrick Stewart) is abandoned to see a teddy bear cursing, using a bong, and humping everyone he can. Ted is often funny, but it's more of a long, uncensored sitcom episode than a really funny movie.

Overall grade: B-

Reviewed by James Lynch

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