Most artists have distinct styles. Katy Perry sings Katy Perry songs. Monet painted Monet paintings; and Seth MacFarlane produces Seth MacFarlane comedy. Therefore, it would be very reasonable to expect a Family Guy-esque comedy from Family Guy creator Seth MacFarlane’s first live action film.
Ted is very firmly in the vein of MacFarlane’s other works; although, it’s definitely not a two hour long episode of Family Guy or American Dad. The comedic style, which is very vulgar, very offense, and extremely laden with pop culture references is the same style that is seen in Family Guy but with very different timing and structure. That decision both helps give the story some much needed direction, but also serves to limit the options for the famous cut-away jokes that are, in my opinion, the location of Family Guy's best content.
The comedy does offer top-shelf laughs and a very high LPM (laughs-per-minute). However, going in with the expectation of receiving a high dosage of Seth MacFarlane humor doesn’t leave much room for surprises. I found myself laughing for the majority of the film, but it was never the best kind of laughter, the kind of laughter that can’t be controlled. That type of laughter comes from a genuinely funny joke that catches the audience off-guard. Fans of Family Guy will rarely be caught off-guard by Ted. The laughs are there, and while I couldn’t have described the approaching punch line, it was very punctual in arriving. For comparison, 21 Jump Street easily gets my vote for "Best Comedy of 2012 So Far." 21 Jump Street had me rolling in the aisles and Ted had me chuckling and saying, "haha that was funny."
Credit is certainly due for not by-passing plot altogether and adding a fair bit of heart to an otherwise raunchy R-rated comedy. It bears (ah ha, see what I did there?!) mentioning that having a coherent plot that follows traditional dramatic rules, such as having a beginning, middle and end, is definitely a different approach for MacFarlane who makes the most disjointed and distracted comedy on television.
The acting in the film is also pretty fantastic. MacFarlane is able to, yet again, create another voice that isn't a rehash of the other characters he plays. It really is extraordinary how voice actors can differentiate themselves into such different characters, and MacFarlane especially deserves some credit when all of his characters are telling the same jokes. Mark Walhberg and Mila Kunis are also great and offer a lot of great context for a raunchy teddy bear.
The bottom line is this: if Family Guy offends you with every line it utters then you will be grossly offended. Likewise, if you enjoy and find Family Guy funny, then you will find laughs at Ted.