A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Ted was co-written and directed by Seth MacFarlane, creator of edgy cartoon TV series Family Guy. Without the constraints of network TV, MacFarlane has taken off the gloves and created an extremely vulgar movie, filled with wall-to-wall foul language, racial and ethnic jokes, sexual innuendo and references, some nudity and partly shown sex, and a violent fight scene. Characters drink beer and smoke pot regularly, drink harder alcohol occasionally, and even try cocaine (the negative effects are shown). There are also tons of pop culture references, as well as a few product references, including beer, junk food, and video games. But on the upside, the characters have genuine heart and work hard to become better people.
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What's the story?
As a child, John Bennett makes a Christmas wish for his new teddy bear to talk and be his best friend forever -- and it comes true. Many years later, John (Mark Wahlberg) is now 35, and though they're still best friends, the bear, Ted (voiced by Seth MacFarlane) has become a bad influence; together, John and Ted spend their time sitting on the couch, making jokes, watching movies, and smoking pot. John's girlfriend, Lori (Mila Kunis), likes Ted and loves John but would really like him to grow up. Unfortunately, John makes one mistake too many, just as a crazed collector (Giovanni Ribisi) kidnaps Ted. Can John get his friend back and straighten out his life?
Is it any good?
Usually, Seth MacFarlane's type of humor -- pop-culture references mixed with vulgar shock humor -- will instantly kill a movie, but not so with TED. MacFarlane has done what There's Something About Mary did: He has made an over-the-top comedy with genuine heart. As ridiculous and as silly as Ted's three characters are, they actually care for one another, and their bond comes through.
Moreover, rather than just telling a story about a vulgar character getting a neurotic one to "loosen up," Ted celebrates the notion of becoming a responsible adult. And while so many movies are about dumping the "wrong girl" before she ruins the hero's life, in this one, John learns to communicate with -- and tries to deserve -- the girl he already loves. As for the humor, though it's frequently shocking and offensive, it's rarely hateful or angry. The characters mostly make fun of themselves. Fortunately, much of that humor is hilarious, and the movie's unexpected warmth makes up the rest.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about how Ted depicts drug and alcohol use. Why do John and Ted smoke and drink so much? What are the real-life consequences of substance use/abuse? Are those consequences clear in the movie?
What does it mean to be a grown up? How do the characters show that they're moving from being children to becoming responsible adults? Is it hard to take that step -- to "throw away childish things" and become adults?
Does this movie reinforce stereotypes, or does it make fun of them?
- In theaters: June 29, 2012
- On DVD or streaming: December 11, 2012
- Cast: Mark Wahlberg, Mila Kunis, Seth MacFarlane
- Director: Seth MacFarlane
- Studio: Universal Pictures
- Genre: Comedy
- Run time: 106 minutes
- MPAA rating: R
- MPAA explanation: crude and sexual content, pervasive language, and some drug use
- Last updated: September 21, 2019
For kids who love silly adult humor
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