Seth MacFarlane is one of the most recognisable names in mainstream media today and with hit shows Family Guy, American Dad! and The Cleveland Show to his name it's no wonder. Ted is an entirely new experience for Seth though, that being his first live-action feature film. Can the master of animated comedy bring the same shine to the silver screen? You better believe it!
Ted starts out in 1985 in Boston with a young John Bennett, a boy with no friends, wishing his new teddy bear (called "Ted") would talk. Naturally a miracle occurs, and the next day Ted is alive an talking to John and soon making a pact to be friends for life. Fast forward to 2012 and John (Mark Wahlberg) is grown up, and Ted (voiced by Seth MacFarlane) is still with him, getting high and not really progressing in life. The only good thing about John's life is his girlfriend of four years, Lori (Mila Kunis), but when her boss Rex (Joel McHale) keeps hitting on her, and John won't amend his ways, she comes to the realisation that John is going nowhere with Ted holding him back she makes an ultimatum - the Teddy Bear goes, or she does.
A film such as this simply wouldn't work without great performances and thankfully everyone is up to the task for this comedy. Mark Wahlberg throws himself into the role of John and spends a lot of time conversing with, well, nothing as Ted is a CG character. The film could have fallen over with a poor CG Ted too, but the filmmakers have done an exceptional job making him look the part - in fact 15 minutes in you just think he's another actor. It's that good. Supporting cast also impress including Mila Kunis and Giovanni Ribisi while Patrick Stewart (yes, Captain Picard himself) is great as the narrator.
It's worth noting that this Blu-Ray release of Ted includes both the Theatrical cut which runs for 106 minutes, and the Extended version which adds 6 minutes for a 112 minute runtime. Generally the longer version is a bit cruder and adds in scenes with young Donny, an extended Ted Danson interview, and a longer sequence with Ted at Donny's house in the cellar; but it's not just extensions with some content from the Theatrical version also removed - so watching both versions is recommended. Personally this is a film which we preferred the Extended Cut.
There's no doubt that the 1080p Blu-Ray transfer is a marked improvement over the old DVD format and while there's no flashy explosions or big-budget visual effects (Ted is a visual effect of course, but I'm talking Transformers type visuals), the upgrade to High Definition is well worth it.
Ted on Blu-Ray has been given a pretty cracking DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 (24-bit/48Khz) track which, for a dialogue- centric comedy film, means it could be pretty front heavy. But it's not. Surround sound channels get a good workout in some scenes, while the music really cranks up at times (check out the music in the club at 22:41). Sound is prioritized perfectly so even during heavy music scenes you can still hear the talking.
Other languages available on this disc include French and Spanish DTS 5.1 tracks encoded at 768kbps and while they aren't as lively as the English lossless track they are still quite acceptable for a film of this ilk. An English Descriptive Video Service is encoded at a rather disappointing Dolby Digital 2.0 at 192kbps - not even surround sound which does disappoint, but I guess it's better to have a stereo mix then none at all for those that require it. Subtitles are provide in English SDH, Spanish and French for the feature film (there's no subtitles for the commentary). We sampled the English subtitles which are placed near the person talking, and are accurate to the on-screen dialogue.
Alternate Takes (10:32/HD): This is a series of alternate takes and moments - some of these are actually fantastic and could have been kept in, or added to, the film. Ted is shown in a variety of forms - from complete for film, to rough animation.
Gag Reel (6:24/HD): Yes, it's your pretty normal gag reel with actors stuffing up or goofing around on the set. Some people enjoy this stuff, I generally find it a waste of time despite the odd chuckle.
Making of Ted (24:42/HD): Although it only runs for 24 minutes this is a pretty decent and comprehensive look at the creation of this film with a large focus on filming with a character not actually on the set but with Seth MacFarlane doing the voice of Ted and motion capture off the side of stage. There's also a focus on the visual effects - with Australia's Iloura doing much of the CG work for the film.
Audio Commentary with Director/Writer Seth MacFarlane, Writer Alec Sulkin, and Mark Wahlberg: As far as audio commentaries go this is quite an entertaining listen, albeit only in the Theatrical version of the film with Seth and Alec providing considerable detail about the production of the film. Mark has a few decent comments too however due to another appointment he goes missing after the first 25 minutes which is disappointing.
Review By: Dave Warner