Family Guy creator jumps to the big screen with a bit funny, a bit predictable and really impressively animated teddy bear.
This April Fools day was quite unusual for animator‘s Ted MacFarlane fans. The trailer for his debut movie about a talking (mostly trash), drinking (mostly alcohol), smoking (mostly…) and partying teddy bear seemed too good to be a fake joke, but still I think there were lots of nervous people guessing is it true. Now it‘s obvious and although the end result was probably not the fulfillment of everyone‘s dreams, in the essence it works.
Although it seems unusual idea given the present movie trend, McFarlane played it very safe. He is the master of such topic in his animated creations. Family Guy has a talking dog, American Dad – an alien and a fish, in The Cleveland Show there is a family of lovely bears. And nobody seems to notice or care. It‘s great that in the movie at least he explains why is that, in a trashy funny way of course.
There are quite a few such nice moments in the movie, in some spots his unique humor really shines. The problem is that to mention them would be a total spoiling of little pleasure left after too much revealing trailers. It‘s obvious that when you see the same joke over and over again, in the final version it stops being funny. Still, it‘s worth to watch Ted even for those remaining little bits and peaces.
But there is a downturn to it – Mark Wahlberg and Mila Kunis love story. I understand it‘s the core for the plot, but when she for the ninth time tells him to be mature and get rid of the bear, and he makes the same promises, it becomes really boring and even irritating. So don‘t expect anything interesting or unusual from the plot itself and especially the ending. Here MacFarlane could have been much more creative than pulling one little joke and then doing merry happy ending. But maybe it‘s not only his fault, maybe that‘s just how Hollywood works.
Despite the plot and the good or bad jokes, one thing at least for me was really impressive. I love when CGI work and other advanced technologies are being used not only in some super sci-fi explosive sets, but as a means to tell some unusual stories. Benjamin Button is the clearest example of such well realized idea. Here it works too – could you imagine such movie with a puppet teddy bear? It would surely cause long nightmares. The work was quite exceptional in the way that it wasn‘t just a usual computer graphics. Studio used hundreds of real (well, not real, but toy things) teddy bears for photo capture and own Seth McFarlane‘s mimics for motion capture. The result is quite seamless, real and somehow simple. And usually the more simple it looks, the more complicated it actually is. And they managed to do something impressive to the eyes – they are at the same time alive and still plastic. Impressive work, really.
Talking about animation star trying himself on the big screen, it‘s worth to remember how his closest colleagues (and competitors) fared. Mike Judge was the first of the big shots, quite bravely taking totally different topic than his famous Beavis and Butt-Head. I loved his Office Space debut, softer, but smart and funny Extract, even the publicly dismissed Idiocracy. South Park guys first played it much safer and went for puppet animation, but then did a U turn and created a hugely successful Broadway show A Book of Mormon, which is now turning into a movie. Interestingly the Guinness record holder (Simpsons is still the longest run animation series, isn‘t it?) Matt Groening is still holding himself off the movie screen. Hopefully McFarlane‘s success will inspire him. It‘s really cool to see big animation creators‘ efforts on the big screen, at least it gives the scene some different creativity and novel ideas.