‘Ted’ Cautions ‘Be Careful What You Wish For’

“Ted” (2012). Cast: Mark Wahlberg, Mila Kunis, Seth MacFarlane (voice), Joel McHale, Giovanni Ribisi, Aedin Mincke, Patrick Warburton, Matt Walsh, Jessica Barth, Bill Smitrovich, Bretton Manley, Ralph Garman, Alex Borstein, Ryan Reynolds, Patrick Stewart (narrator), Sam J. Jones (himself), Norah Jones (herself), Tom Skerritt (himself). Director: Seth MacFarlane. Screenplay: Seth MacFarlane, Alec Sulkin and Wellesley Wild. Story: Seth MacFarlane. www.tedisreal.com

We’ve all no doubt wished that something seemingly improbable would come true. And, amazingly, there are times when that, in fact, happens, despite the odds being stacked against it. In some instances, those materialized wishes live up their billing in every regard, while, in others, there are unanticipated consequences, as an idealistic lad turned confused adult finds out in the outrageous new comedy, “Ted.”

John (Bretton Manley) is a lonely little boy. As a youngster growing up in the Boston suburbs in the late 1970s, he’s largely ignored, sometimes taunted, by all the neighborhood kids. Which is why he’s so excited one Christmas morning when his parents (Ralph Garman, Alex Borstein) present him with the gift of an adorable teddy bear whom John names Ted. John’s so taken with his new toy that he quickly comes to see him as his best friend. In fact, the only thing that would make him happier would be if Ted could talk, a wish that John makes in earnest – and that quickly comes true.

John is thrilled, to say the least. And, thanks to his unique ability, Ted (voiced by Seth MacFarlane) becomes an overnight sensation, even making an appearance on The Tonight Show with Johnny Carson. But Ted’s gift proves to be more than just a fleeting occurrence; in fact, it never goes away, and neither does the bear. As John grows into adulthood (Mark Wahlberg), he and Ted continue their lives together. The longtime buddies still have loads of fun, not unlike when both were younger (even if the nature of that fun has changed considerably over time). But the challenges of growing up frequently impinge on their good times, and each must learn to cope with the changes in their lives, such as Ted’s faded glory and John’s search to find himself, both in work and in his relationship with his girlfriend, Lori (Mila Kunis). The question for both man and bear is, how will things play out?

John’s ability to bring Ted to life clearly shows that he’s a natural conscious creator. Even if he’s unaware of his skills, he’s able to tap into the power of manifestation and bring his wishes into being. But, despite these capabilities, it’s also quite apparent that John isn’t fully aware of the consequences of his actions. It’s understandable that a lonely little boy would want to materialize a friend for himself, but it’s also quite natural that he might not realize that he would be doing so for life, not just for childhood.

Being aware of the consequences that come with conscious creation is something of which we should all be aware when we engage in this practice. It’s especially crucial for children, since they often have few or no inhibitions when it comes to metaphysical matters, and they may not always exercise the kind of prudence that would be advisable under the circumstances. But, if one were to fail at keeping sight of this into adulthood, the impact on the outcomes could be ongoing, perhaps even multiplied indefinitely.

Circumstances like this draw attention to two additional – and highly significant – aspects of the conscious creation process. First, one must never lose sight of the responsibility that comes with materialization, for our creations ultimately spring forth from us, even if we aren’t always aware of what we’re putting out into the world. John frequently fails on this point through his adventures (and misadventures), sometimes consciously, sometimes not. But, either way, accepting responsibility for his manifestations is something he must learn if ever he hopes to master his abilities – or simply just to grow up.

When the implications of this occur consciously, a second aspect of the process becomes apparent – choice. We can each choose how we employ the practice and to what ends, a consideration that becomes particularly important where responsibility issues are concerned. In John’s case, he has choice at his disposal at all times, but it’s not something he always exercises judiciously (especially when his furry buddy gets into the act). He needn’t fall prey to the perils if irresponsibility and bad choices, however, as long as he has this basic quality of conscious creation at his disposal – and decides to exercise them.

“Ted” is surprisingly profound in many respects, serving up more than just laughs (although they’re reason enough for seeing it). Its outrageous sense of humor easily overcomes any hints of saccharin-encrusted cutesiness, even if some of the jokes fall flat or push the envelope of propriety and/or political incorrectness. And then there’s the special effects with the bear, which are pretty incredible and inventive. The narrative is admittedly a bit predictable, though the path it takes to fulfill certain aspects of the story often leads viewers in some delightfully unanticipated directions.

Sometimes wishes come true in ways far greater than anticipated, and cautionary tales like “Ted” can serve to remind us of that fact. But, with an awareness of the power, responsibility and choice that come with such matters, we just might get what we want –and without any unintended side effects. And who knows, with enough practice, phrases like “Be careful what you wish for” just might become obsolete.

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