What do Best Picture winner The Artist and the new raunchy comedy Ted have in common? Maybe more than you’d think.
Now don’t get me wrong. I’m not saying a movie about a foul mouthed, pot smoking teddy bear is on the same artistic level as the first silent film to win the top Oscar in 83 years. I’m not leading the charge for Ted to be nominated for Best Picture this year.
I watched both movies this weekend. The Artist is new on DVD, Blu-Ray and On Demand, and Ted was released in theaters Friday. I’m not going to get deep into the stories because there are plenty of other reviews out there that do that. After seeing both movies, though, I realized that each one in its own way is a tribute to film itself.
In the The Artist, popular silent film actor George Valentin (Jean Dujardin) finds himself becoming obsolete with the advent of talkies. Valentin is a handsome, rugged movie star largely popular for his looks and swagger, much like a Douglas Fairbanks or a Rudolph Valentino. His leading lady, Peppy Miller (Berenice Bejo), is a gal with spunk–or least that’s what I imagine a stereotypical, fast-talking film producer from the 1930s saying. The entire film is a tribute to the silent film era, and it captures the magic that many of the best films of that time had.
On its surface, Ted is a movie about a talking teddy bear and his 35-year-old slacker best friend John (Mark Walhberg). It takes a little bit of time to adjust to the world Seth MacFarlane creates, where a talking teddy bear is regarded by others as nonchalantly as, oh, a talking dog in Family Guy.
But if you’re a fan of Family Guy like me, you know Seth MacFarlane not only likes to make fun of popular culture but also pays tribute to it. Scenes like the epic fights between Peter and the giant chicken are as much homages to fight scenes from action movies as they are parodies of them.
MacFarlane does much the same thing with Ted, his first live action feature film. You get the sense that he just loves movies. If he can find a way to work in an epic fight scene, a climactic car chase or a dramatic, nail-biting showdown at a popular sports venue, he’s going to do it.
Obviously these two movies are very different, and I was a little worried after watching and enjoying The Artist first that I wouldn’t be able to enjoy Ted as much. But if you watch each movie for what it is, you can appreciate what each is trying to accomplish. In my opinion, they both succeed.