A Bear with a Bong

Thirty-five year old Boston rental car agent John Bennett has been dating his girlfriend, Lori Collins, for four years. Lori wants to get married, but John is reluctant to commit himself. What’s holding him back?

Would you believe… a teddy bear?

It all starts when John is eight, and finds himself friendless, unpopular and alone. His parents give the lonely boy a three-foot tall teddy bear for Christmas.

Wishing on a star one night—as Patrick Stewart’s saccharine-sweet narrative informs us—that his bear would come alive and be a real-life companion for him, John awakens the next morning astonished.

To his delight and his parents’ horror, the bear has indeed come to life. Not only that, he proves to be the most foul-mouthed representative of his species imaginable, with rather devastating consequences.

The bear becomes an overnight national media sensation, making headlines and appearing on the Johnny Carson show (where he brazenly responds to Carson’s “I thought you’d be shorter,” with “I thought you’d be funnier!”)

As John grows to adolescence and young adulthood and moves away from home, Ted, his a minutes of fame long past him, moves with him.

Now middle-aged and working in a dead-end job, John’s come to the point where he must make a choice between the love of his life and his lifetime companion.

Ted is a cheeky, anarchic comedy, starring Mark Wahlberg (2010’s Date Night and The Other Guys) as John, and Mila Kunis (Black Swan and Date Night) as his girlfriend, Lori.

But the real star of the film, which seems to have caught on with audiences, vaulting to top box office position and grossing $54 million in its first week of release, is its diminutive ursine protagonist.

Ted is voiced by the film’s director, Seth MacFarlane, who bestows an irreverence and defiant spirit of outrageousness to his character that belies his outward cuteness.

He’s inordinately fond of the bong, and lands John in jeopardy at work, after numerous absences where he slips home in the middle of the day to get stoned with his freeloading bear roommate.

Perhaps the most hilarious moments in Ted occur when John, responding to pressure from Lori, kicks the bear out and Ted is forced to go out and find a job. He becomes a cashier in a local supermarket, where he blows kisses to the cashier at the checkout adjoining his.

She thinks he’s cute, and ends up responding favourably to his increasingly obscene gestures, to the point of being caught in carnal embrace with him in the back of the produce section.

She points out that he does well for someone not equipped with full human anatomy, and he vows to see the folks at Hasbro about that.

Other comedic highlights include a coked-out party hosted by Ted, with a cameo appearance by Sam Jones, star of the ’80s sci-fi send-up Flash Gordon, who is a boyhood hero of both John and Ted.

Then, there is a furious encounter between the bear and a crazed duck (don’t ask!), and a plot by creepy Giovanni Ribisi (The Rum Diary, Avatar) to kidnap Ted for his equally creepy son.

Parents would be wise not to mistake Ted for yet another cute animation feature for their kids.

Its 14A rating (R rating in most other jurisdictions) guarantees that their offspring won’t be exposed unaccompanied to the film’s very adult content.

Ted plays at 7:00 and 9:30 p.m. at the Qwanlin Cinema.

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