I have a love-hate attitude towards Seth MacFarlane, creator of popular adult-skewing cartoons Family Guy, American Dad! and The Cleveland Show. He's clearly a talented man with multiple strings to his bow, but his style of comedy is something I have mixed feelings about. I often find that a compilation of Family Guy clips on YouTube is preferable to actually watching a single episode, because the show doesn't have good stories--and therefore context isn't that necessary for most of the jokes. It's almost entirely built on one-liners, non sequiturs, spoofs, in-jokes, swearing, and crazy visuals. That can be fun to watch, of course, but the stories and characters never engage me in the same way The Simpsons did in its '90s heyday--and those are the crucial things lacking from much of his work.
News MacFarlane is making a live-action movie didn't fill me with too much optimism earlier this year, but I have to admit the concept of Ted has me giggling already. In the movie, Mark Wahlberg plays John Bennett—a man whose childhood wish for his teddy bear to come to life was miraculously granted—but now, many years later, "Ted" (voiced by Seth MacFarlane) has grown into a drunken, bad-mannered comrade who gets in the way of John's adult relationships and prevents him from growing up.
The "red band" trailer is embedded above (NSFW), and it's interesting to see MacFarlane transfer his comedy style to a mainstream movie. In particular, what is it with MacFarlane and talking animals or inanimate objects? One features in everything he's ever done—from talking babies and dogs, to aliens and bears—which is an unusual signature to have.
Ted opened in the US on 29 June, making an impressive $20.2 million over its first weekend (making it the best R-rated comedy debut since The Hangover), and has currently earned $190m around the world. It's definitely a big hit, meaning MacFarlane's found movie success easier than fellow animator Mike Judge (Beavis & Butthead, King of the Hill)—whose movies Office Space and Idiocracy both had troubled theatrical runs and only really found audiences on DVD.
I don't know if Ted's close to being as interesting as Judge's ill-fated flops, but at least the healthy takings will ensure more projects from the writer-director-actor-singer-producer. Is there nothing he can't do?