Ted ★★★★

I had a blast watching "Ted", "Family Guy" creator Seth MacFarlane’s successful feature-film directorial debut (he co-wrote the screenplay with Alec Sulkin and Wellesley Wild and also provides the voice of Ted). Who knew that a movie about a teddy bear come to life would turn out to be the best comedy I have seen since last year’s "Bridesmaids"?

The R-rated humor generates plenty of laughs, all the while with a welcome element of warmth to it. The script contains many comic gems in the form of lines of dialogue. Memorable scenes include Ted’s job interview, a flashback to a fantasy night on the dance floor, a fight in a hotel room, Ted’s prank on the human protagonists late in the movie, and the film’s very last joke (which is possibly the funniest one of all and which I certainly won’t spoil here). There are also a number of pop-cultural references to appreciate, such as ringtones, an Indiana Jones moment, and a photo reminiscent of "E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial".

A special mention must be made of how utterly convincingly Ted is brought to life on the screen and how seamlessly integrated he is with the live-action material. The impressively realistic rendering of the living teddy bear does wonders for the viewer’s emotional investment in the character, without which the film no doubt would have fallen flat.

Not everything in the movie works, however. Even though it manages to keep going for the duration of its 106-minute running time, the film feels a bit padded, especially in the middle section. Moreover, the subplot involving the kidnapping of the eponymous plush toy doesn’t quite gel with the rest of the picture, despite the fact that it spices up things with some action and suspense. Those issues aside, "Ted" still provides upper-echelon entertainment.

Mark Wahlberg plays the part of John Bennett straight instead of descending into pure silliness and seems to be having a really good time. As Lori Collins, Mila Kunis does a fine job in a mostly thankless role. Giovanni Ribisi is appropriately creepy as Donny. Patrick Stewart’s commanding, matter-of-fact voice ensures that the narration, which is funny in its own right, strengthens rather than weakens the proceedings. Sam Jones and Ryan Reynolds make hilarious cameo appearances as himself and Jared, respectively.