Ignoring the obvious difference, Ted is about a couple and the guy's life-long best friend and the fact that the guy, John (Mark Wahlberg) hasn't really grown up all that much despite being in his 30's and his girlfriend, Lori (Mila Kunis) is finally fed up with it. The one detail that takes this story from an amusing comedy to an absurdity is the fact that the best friend, Ted (MacFarlane), is a living stuffed teddy bear.
When John was young, he had no friends, and one Christmas he made a wish for one. It was then that his large stuffed bear came to life. After a stint as a celebrity, Ted's popularity waned and he and John simply grew older (not up, just older) together. Now, John and Ted live with Lori, and in general, things are good. That is, until a bit of outside pressure and one too many of Ted's hijinx make Lori give the "him or me" ultimatum.
With Ted in a new apartment and looking for a job, John decides to finally grow up. After all, not only is his relationship on the line, but he might get that branch-manager position at a local car rental. It's time to put up the weed and start acting like a grown up.
Unfortunately, Ted keeps pulling him back into their slacker lifestyle and John never really seems to get out of the hole he has put himself into. It takes a few too many wild nights and losing everything he really cares about to get him on the right track again. If all this sounds too serious, it's because there are some pretty serious storylines in Ted, but there is enough comedy and absurdity to mask it really well.
Ted himself is a foul-mouthed, drug head, former-celebrity bear who gets away with the most ridiculous things, but what's great is that, for the most part, no one in the show really sees him as a talking teddy bear. He is just another guy. On some strange meta-level, this just adds to the comedy of the film. Even when the movie takes a darker turn and Ted gets kidnapped by a long-time crazed fan, played by Giovanni Ribisi, Ted's personality keeps the film from getting even close to depressing. While the story could just as easily have been told with a real person in the place of the CG bear, the added dash of surrealism that is Ted makes it something more than every other similarly templated film that comes out.
Besides Wahlberg, Kunis, MacFarlane and Risbisi, who all do great jobs, the cast also includes Joel McHale (Community) as Lori's boss, Patrick Warburton as one of John's co-workers, Jessica Barth as Ted's girlfriend, Patrick Stewart as the narrator and even Sam J. Jones as himself since Ted and John were both huge Flash Gordon fans as kids.
One of the most impressive aspects of Ted is the CG bear himself, at least that's what I thought before watching the Making-Of featurettes. Yes, the character looks great and feels like he is really on the set, and while the CG itself is great, it seems like a lot of that feeling actually came from MacFarlane and how the movie was shot.
Not only did MacFarlane direct the film and provide the voice for the movie's titular character, but he was also acting and motion-capturing Ted's scenes on set, just slightly off camera alongside the rest of the actors.
In the featurettes, you see MacFarlane in a trimmed down motion capture suit with cameras pointed at him and him looking at the director's monitor watching the other actors do their scene. He is acting out the scene right alongside them and usually in oversized versions of the same sets. Not only does this help make it feel like Ted was actually on set, but it helps the actors interact with the CG character and it allowed the cast to go off script and play off of each other some; something that is fairly regular in most live action comedies, but not really possible when you introduce CG characters. I must say, if nothing else, MacFarlane should get recognition for how well he apparently handled doing several jobs simultaneously while filming the movie.
Ted: Unrated also has a collection of deleted scenes, alternate takes and a funny gag reel, as well as a detailed featurette covering John and Ted's fight scene. It was all amusing and worth watching.
While Ted is a fun, and funny, movie to watch, it isn't for everyone. Those that like MacFarlane's typical brand of humor (i.e. Family Guy, American Dad) will enjoy the movie, but you aren't likely to convince someone that isn't a fan of MacFarlane's TV shows to watch this film. But then again, I doubt it's geared towards garnering new fans, just giving more material for MacFarlane's existing fans to enjoy.