Director(s): Seth MacFarlane
Writer(s): Seth MacFarlane, Alec Sulkin and Wellesley Wild
Cast: Mark Wahlberg, Mila Kunis, Seth MacFarlane, Joel McHale and Giovanni Ribisi
Release Date(s)Jun 29, 2012 - Wide
Seth MacFarlane owns a nice chunk of the TV landscape with Family Guy, American Dad! and The Cleveland Show all airing on Fox. So it’s about time that he brings his talents to the big screen with Ted. MacFarlane co-wrote, directed, produced and voices the title character in a story about a grown man who must contend with his living teddy bear.
Mark Wahlberg plays John Bennett, who as a child wished that his teddy bear could come to life. Now, thirty years later, that friendship and link to the past is getting on the nerves of his girlfriend, Lori (Mila Kunis).
Writer Wellesley Wild, who teamed up with MacFarlane and fellow Family Guy scribe Alec Sulkin on the script says that “Seth had the idea for Ted for a long time I remember him saying that he was waiting for the technology to get to the point where he could make it look like a real teddy bear.” He laughs, “It was Seth’s concept, but he didn’t have time to write it with his 20 shows on television, so he sent us off to write a rough draft. We continued to work with him on weekends, changing it and punching it up.”
This isn’t one of those stories when only the hero can see his special friend. “A big part of the comedy comes from the fact that years after the bear came to life, people have gotten used to it and nobody cares anymore,” MacFarlane says, “a point it would naturally get to in real life. So once that big moment has passed, what’s the other 95 percent of your life going to be like? That was part of the comedy in Ted.”
Producer Scott Stuber points out that though Seth’s known as an equal opportunity offender, he still has heart. “Seth’s point is that he tries to offend everyone and not single out any group. However, he brings heart and comedy and absurdity to this story that’s ultimately about growing up and leaving an icon of your childhood behind. He was able to mix in so many things. There’s some crazy stuff in this movie that makes you drop your jaw in the best of ways and say, ‘I can’t believe they just did that.’ But at the end of the day, he never lost sight of the heart, and the best comedies have that.”
MacFarlane thought Wahlberg was perfect for the film even though he’d only done a handful of comedies. “Mark Wahlberg was the perfect fit because he can be hysterically funny, yet he’s also able to deliver genuine emotion and realism. When he talks to the bear, you believe that bear is sitting there. The way he could sit there and show such genuine emotion over the prostrate body of an inanimate stuffed animal was pretty impressive, and that is going to be a very big reason why the audience is invested in this.”
Seeing as Mark would be acting opposite a character that would be CGI’d in later, he had to have a lot of trust, says producer Stuber. “Trust is a big word, and Mark had to go there with Seth. He had to sit on a couch next to a kickstand and hope that the animation and the personality of that bear would feel like two guys on a couch having fun and having real camaraderie. Mark was unbelievable; he gives such a great performance. The irony is that if you watch the dailies of the movie, there’s nobody playing against him. If you watch the movie just from Mark’s perspective, he’s getting his bare ass whipped, has to get up and sing poorly and is beat up by a bear—all kinds of indignation for his character. He just never complained, and he did everything we asked of him.”
Mila Kunis wasn’t phased by the storyline either. “It’s a movie about a talking teddy bear, and I would expect nothing less from Seth, Alec and Wellesley. It all made sense to me, and I didn’t question it at all. I’m on a cartoon with a talking dog. Like I’m going to question a bear?”
See if you’ll question a living teddy bear when Ted opens in North America on June 29th, 2012.