Mark Wahlberg is like Peter Pan, he never grew up. But never growing up in James Barrie’s world and never growing up today are two completely different things. Today it involves drinking a lot of beer, farting a lot, sitting on the couch with your asshole buddies and acting gross.
Mark’s asshole buddy is Ted, who is a teddy bear. When he was eight, he made a wish and his teddy bear came to life. This is all dealt with in the first five minutes in narration by Patrick Stewart; his parents are frightened and horrified for one brief scene, and after that it is accepted that this miracle has happened. Ted appears on Johnny Carson in an amazing bit of CGI trickery (Carson: I thought you’d be bigger. Ted: I thought you’d be funnier.) The world knows about him, as they now know about the Hensel conjoined twin sisters, who have two heads on one body, so no one remarks about seeing a teddy bear walking down the street. He is not a freak show. But as Stewart notes, “In the end, whether you are Justin Bieber or a talking teddy bear, a time comes when nobody gives a shit.”
So Mark is 35 now, and has been living with his girlfriend (Mila Kunis) and Ted for four years. And Mila is getting fed up. It’s like living in the dorm room of two pot-head slackers with no ambition whatsoever. They both smoke a lot of dope, and Ted brings home hookers four at a time. Mark keeps promising to reform, and then Ted tempts him with something and he goes back to his old ways. They made a solemn vow to be best buddies forever, and it’s hard to break a promise like that. To her credit, Mila understands this, but of course it will eventually have to come down to a him or me situation.
I was surprised how much I liked this. It is funny, and gross (as even G and PG rated comedies are these days; I don’t have a problem with grossness, mostly, though some films these days test my limits), and surprisingly sweet without raising my blood sugar alarmingly. There are hilarious cameos by Tom Skerritt and the wonderful Norah Jones (daughter of Ravi Shankar) as themselves. Seems Norah had a red-hot sexual relationship with Ted in the past. There is a man, the ultimate collector of sports memorabilia, who has Lance Armstrong’s nut on display, which he had bronzed. (Remember his testicular cancer?) Mark looks at it and says, “Well, sometimes you feel like a nut.” And from some elephant’s boneyard of has-been talentless actors they have dug up Sam J. Jones, who starred in that horrible Flash Gordon movie back in 1980. Mark and Ted are huge Flash Gordon fans, and to them, Jones is God. I never recommend comedies because we all laugh at different things. I only report whether or not I laughed. I laughed. I guffawed. I even chortled. Many times.