The leap from the small to the big screen is often tried but rarely successful in either of the categories of critical acclaim or box office takings.
Macfarlane seems to know this and has acted accordingly. Instead of going for the easy-but-open-to-failure route of simply extending one of his TV shows into a feature-length running time, he has written and directed a fresh piece of work for his first foray into the medium of film.
However, for those of you who are now wary of this new direction and change from the creator of Peter Griffin, don't fret - this might not be an actual episode of Family Guy, but it's the nearest thing to it. Just like Malcolm In The Middle was like a live version of The Simpsons, Ted has ALL the trademarks of its surrogate father show present and correct. From cast all the way through to cut-away sequences that have no place being there, fans will know that Macfarlane's hand, and blue-languaged mouth, are all over this project.
And cleverly on his part, for those of you that have never "quite got" the wonderful weird humour that is Family Guy, American Dad and The Cleveland Show, there is more than enough fresh material and new actors to help those people differentiate it from its animated parents.
Narrated by American Dad alumni Patrick Stewart, we are told the simple story of a boy that even the beat-up Jewish kids won't play with - a boy so lonely that he wishes his favourite teddy bear could talk to him so they could be best friends forever. Amid the 80's posters and references ( Indiana Jones and The Temple Of Doom etc), we see the wish come true and a montage that shows the passing of time for both "thunder buddies for life" - Ted the magical bear being interviewed by Johnny Carson, both friends dressing up as E.T. and Elliot, the strangeness of graduation day and Wahlberg meeting Kunis.
Skip 30 years ahead and that's when the filthy fun really starts! Ted and Wahlberg's Johnny are happily drifting through life and still together, with the addition of Kunis' quietly suffering Lori under the same roof and into the mix. The basic plot of how friendship can be affected by the process of growing up has been depicted before - You, Me And Dupree - but here the added element of a beer swigging, coarse-mouthed bear is enough to make Andy and his favourite toys Woody and Buzz wanna head back to Daycare with their hands clamped firmly over their ears. Make no mistake, Ted is not for the easily offended. If you've seen any uncut episodes of Family Guy, you'll already know exactly how far the jokes can go and that no one is safe from the mirth-magnifying-glass. Over the years what has become more and more acceptable in films has now equated to the fact that you're still kind of shocked at what is said because the certificate here is only 15. The idea that a joke is a joke, and that no one should be above or beyond being at the end of one is run with throughout but strangely never seems to stray into the truly offensive arena but mostly into the "hand over mouth, oh no they didn't!" vicinity.
The non-bear cast are great with Kunis bit-by-bit breaking away from her put-upon, unwanted Meg character as Macfarlane's writing and her performance never let her fall into the so-easily-seen "hateful girlfriend" that tries to break up the long-life buddies. Wahlberg must have credit for treading the thin line of dumb schmuck that can't get his together and loyal friend torn between two individuals that he loves, without ever losing your faith in him. Except for one scene when he confides in McHale's wonderfully egotistical slimy Boss of Lori in a "man to man" pact that delivers one of the films best scenes where Ted has an unexpected guest arrive at his party - Flash Gordon himself! Not unlike the Mike Tyson surprise appearance in The Hangover, this one gets extra kudos points for keeping the gag running throughout the film and also the fact that both Ted and Johnny are star-struck every single moment that Flash is upon the screen.
What does come as a surprise however, is the emotional pull that the film is able to create with its audience. The final act, not to give too much away, sees events unfold where Johnny and Lori realise that they could lose Ted forever and put their "hanging by a thread" love life aside to unite to save the day. That a CGI'd bear that humps cash registers and wants to have strong words with Hasbro about his lack of bear/manhood can make you want to cry during the finale is truly a great feet of emotional manipulation on Macfarlane's part and of the technology that gave us Lord Of The Rings' Gollum and Avatar's Na'vi. You'll believe a bear can drink!
A wonderful mix of various types of humour, ranging from slapstick to shock, Ted is part 80's homage, part Toy Story (18 Cert ), part coming-of-age tale, part bro-mance, part love story, but mostly, it's the funniest film you would have seen in ages!
UK release date: 01.08.12