Last night I went to the cinema with a good friend who needed to be cheered up a bit after having had some stress at work. We saw a comedy. One that turned out to be rather dark. This darkness may or may not have been intentional from the people who wrote the script.
The film was a story of two men who share an intimate friendship. They grew up together, and are still best friends. However, their friendship is quite destructive. They do drugs together, and keep holding each other back from getting anywhere in their lives.
John has a shitty job that he is constantly at the edge of losing. He also has a girlfriend named Lori. She is beautiful, intelligent, loving, and has a good career. She is also quite fed up with how her beloved boyfriend is handling his life.
Ted used to be a television celebrity back when they were kids, but everybody has forgotten about him by now. He doesn’thave a job and doesn’t make any attempts whatsoever to do anything with his life. He has resigned himself to being nothing else than John’s best friend – living at his place, keeping his neurosises in check, and be the fun guy who party all the time. Spoiler warning, by the way. The film is named ”Ted”.
Much of the movie is focused on how John need to distance himself from Ted to get his life together. He never quite seem to understand that this is something he has to do for his own sake, not merely to please his girlfriend.
Meanwhile, the film pays precious little attention to Ted’s own need to grow out of his role. In spite of being the title character, the scrpitwriters never really let him be anything more than a sidekick for John. Ted eventually gets a shitty job, but only because he need to pay rent for having an apartment of his own. An apartment that he got only because John kicked him out. Which he did only because Lori demanded it. Nobody ever asks Ted what Ted want to do with his life. Nobody ever asks Ted to ask himself what he wants to do with his life, or when he will stop being just a former celebrity and move on to be a future something else instead. Not even Lori, who is supposed to be the mature one.
While the former child celebrity Ted doesn’t have any regular fans anymore, he do have one psycho stalker who has been obsessed with him all these years. This stalker harasses him, with sexual overtones. Eventually escalating to kidnapping, torture, mutilation, implied attempted rape, and eventually homicide. Lori manages to recussitate Ted, however, and thus all hard feelings between them are gone. Yay, happy ending: John and Ted can go back to holding each other back from personal development and keeping each other addicted to drugs, Lori will accept that now.
Maybe there is some hope, after all. As John and Lori was getting married, I was actually afraid that Ted would be there with them in the ”just married” car. But he was cheering at them from the church steps instead. So one may hope that the guys will give each other some much needed space in the future.
The movie is full of lokes. Some of them funny, some not. One extremely creepy joke came as the credits were rolling. They explained that the stalker is still out there, and they didn’t say anything about him suddenly having lost his decades-long obsession with Ted. The stalker did get arrested for his crimes, but the court refused to prosecute the case because they thought the whole thing sounded silly. Fun, eh? Good joke? The narrator had a tone of voice that implied that we all ought to regard this as hillarious.
Why is this joke even a joke at all? Teds is a person with the full range of human emotion and intellect. He is a citizen of the United States of America. Why is it ”funny” that the guy who terrorized him got away and is free to do the same thing again in the future? Well, because Ted belongs to a category of people who isn’t considered to deserve any protection. And no, this is not about Ted being male. It is about him being a teddy bear.
Wait, what? A teddy bear? Not a human? Well, yeah. Ted is a magical teddy bear. When John was eight years old, he wished that his teddy bear would become a real person. Some higher power granted his wish. This is all a comedy movie, remember?
Sexual violence against adult men is sometimes considered ”funny” because of the myth that it never happens in the real world. Or ecause of the prejudice that any man ”had it coming” anyway, and deserved to get raped if he couldn’t defend himself. A woman rapes a man and gets away with it: ”Hahaha”.
Sexualized violence against Ted is in this case supposed to be ”funny” because teddy bears are not supposed to be real persons. However, Ted is a real person. Human rights are about everyone having thoughts and feelings, not about everyone being made of flesh and blood.
Denying a person his human rights, accepting violence against him by simply laughing it off. Sorry for ”not having a sense of humor” here, but I was not amused.
All in all, the film was okay. No more, no less. The premise was very interesting, and the film could have been truly great if the writers had bothered to explore their premise a bit further. Comedies do get better when you add a it of depth in a good way. Just look at Shrek.