Is Ted a funny movie? The answer to that question is all you need to know when it comes to seeing a comedy. There's more to it than that, but comedy seems to get away with more by sticking to a laughs-per-minute scale and skipping over the merits we judge other genres on. Direction, cinematography, plot, themes, these things are probably not what you're spending your $12 on when heading into Ted.
So yes, Ted is very funny. Sometimes it's funny in that traditional way that films like Airplane! are funny (which Ted brilliantly references), and sometimes it's funny in that Family Guy way. Either way, the laughs are frequent enough that the trailers didn't spoil all the best jokes. In fact, it's in exploring John (Mark Wahlberg) and Ted's common interests, like Flash Gordon, that we get some of the funniest and best moments in the film, which I won't spoil here.
John has a stuffed teddy bear that talks, and yes, the whole world knows about it. If you thought Ted would feature a CG bear and just roll with it like so many terrible kid's movies, you'd be wrong. The first five minutes of Ted play out like a typical Christmas-wish-come-true plot in fast-forward. Jump to present day and John is 35 years old, Ted has lost that squeaky voice to a Boston accent, and they're both getting high on the couch watching Spongebob.
Merely existing with a living, dirty-mouthed teddy bear could have been plot enough for Ted, but along comes Lori (Mila Kunis). What follows is the typical, painfully cliche "friend gets in the way of their love" plot that's been done to death. I think back and only a year ago I was praising The Muppets for more or less following the exact same plot. But where that film pulled it off with ironic wit, Ted follows the conflict between John, Lori, and Ted with a dramatic seriousness that threatens to bring down the whole thing.
Lori is never much of a character. She is treated like a conflict wrapped up in a pretty face, leaving John and Ted to explore the more interesting parts of their issues. It's borderline offensive how simplistic her character is portrayed (I can imagine the feminist essays being written now). It makes you wonder why Lori needs to be in the film at all, because all the best scenes tend to involve John sneaking away to hang out with Ted.
That they threw in a creepy-guy kidnapping plot into the mix only reveals the film's desperate attempts to find something to do with these two great characters they've created. I just wanted to watch John and Ted hang out and get into trouble but the plot kept getting in the way.
My recommendation? Don't judge Ted on that standard set of merits that most films are judged on. You won't get very far. As a provider of laughs, Ted is absolutely brilliant. As a provider of a clever plot? Not so much. While I may reflect on those flaws now, I can honestly say I was too busy laughing to care while watching it.