John Bennett, a man whose childhood wish of bringing his teddy bear to life came true, now must decide between keeping the relationship with the bear or his girlfriend, Lori.
The opening scenes find the right tone. A treacly narrator (Patrick Stewart) describes a Christmas that reminds us of a “A Christmas Story,” except for the jolts of four-letter words and anti-PC one-liners. We meet young John Bennett, the most unpopular kid in the neighborhood, so disliked that while a Jewish kid is being beaten up, John feels envious.
All young John wants is a true friend for life. For Christmas, his parents give him an enormous teddy bear the size of a first grader, and that night under the sheets with a flashlight, John asks Teddy to be his real and true forever friend. Teddy comes to life and agrees.
The miracle of a walking, talking teddy bear of course makes the little stuffed creature an overnight celebrity, and he appears on the Carson show. But his fame fades (“like Corey Feldman,” the narrator explains), and he settles in as John’s roommate for life. Years pass. Teddy is now a little frayed, and John (Mark Wahlberg), at 35, has a counter job at a rental car agency. Against all odds, he also has a fragrant girlfriend named Lori Collins (Mila Kunis), who has been waiting four years for a marriage proposal.
John and Ted lead an “Animal House”-like existence, inhaling wholesale quantities of weed and recalling their early years as “Flash Gordon” fans. American movies have recently featured a lot of male characters who are victims of arrested adolescence, but few who have resisted growing up more successfully than John.
The laughs in “Ted” come largely through the teddy bear’s dialogue. With an edgy Beantown accent and a potty mouth, Ted insults and offends everyone he comes into contact with, and sees Lori as a threat to his friendship with John. This despite his own pastimes, which include drugs, hookers, and as we later discover, a torrid early 1990s affair with absolutely the last female vocalist you could imagine having sex with a teddy bear — and I mean the last.