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A Boy And His Bear, At Large In A Man's World

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A Boy And His Bear, At Large In A Man's World

Review

Movies

A Boy And His Bear, At Large In A Man's World

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AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:

Seth McFarlane is best known for creating, writing, directing and voicing characters in the animated TV show, "Family Guy." Now, for the first time, he's jumped to the big screen. McFarlane has created, written and directed the movie "Ted," and, though it's a live action picture, he does the voice of Ted. Here's our critic Bob Mondello.

BOB MONDELLO, BYLINE: I was resistant at first, I have to say. The opening bit struck me as too cute by half: eight-year-old Johnny getting a teddy bear as a Christmas present, one that talks when you squeeze it.

(SOUNDBITE OF MOVIE, "TED")

MONDELLO: And making a wish on a falling star as he's falling asleep that night.

(SOUNDBITE OF MOVIE, "TED")

MONDELLO: And being more than a little surprised when the wish comes true.

(SOUNDBITE OF MOVIE, "TED")

MONDELLO: Teddy comes to life, startles parents, briefly makes headlines and then, as happens with many instant celebrities, the world loses interest. Johnny grows older. Ted does, too. Their voices deepen and we catch up with them 27 years later.

(SOUNDBITE OF MOVIE, "TED")

MONDELLO: Johnny's now 35 with a job, an apartment, a teddy bear and a girlfriend.

(SOUNDBITE OF MOVIE, "TED")

MONDELLO: Well, there's that. Now, at this point, I'm still not really buying in. Johnny, played pleasantly by Mark Wahlberg in his own Boston accent, seems real enough. Mila Kunis is appealing as Lori and tolerant beyond words. And I guess Ted is animated persuasively, but despite this movie's boozing, profanity and bong hits, it's all striking me as a little precious.

Then Lori insists that she and John need space.

(SOUNDBITE OF MOVIE, "TED")

MONDELLO: And the practicalities of that are what finally won me over. Ted obviously needs a job, which means he needs to put on a tie.

(SOUNDBITE OF MOVIE, "TED")

MONDELLO: And go out in the world and, out in the world, he starts to - I don't know - actually exist. Something about other people acknowledging him, I guess. And, once you stop fighting his reality, Seth McFarlane makes Ted really funny, romancing a trampy checkout girl at the supermarket, carousing with hookers, downing shots with Flash Gordon, which would take way too long to explain. It's all idiotic, but not any more so than, say, "Hangover's" bachelor party gone wrong and, at heart, it's actually kind of the same story about that transition point where overgrown kids have to finally grow up, but get sidetracked by a boorish, course, consistently inappropriate fuzz ball who makes the growing up difficult.

(SOUNDBITE OF MOVIE, "TED")

MONDELLO: Dirty is the operative word here. "Ted" is profane enough that it's not a movie real kids should be allowed anywhere near, but it is a movie about a teddy bear that MacFarlane has somehow made safe for overgrown kids who wouldn't normally be caught dead at a movie about a teddy bear.

I'm Bob Mondello.

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