I should say straight off that I never got Family Guy. The appeal of doing a charmless spoof of bad Simpsons episodes escapes me and the sheer intensity of its one-liners and sight gags made the programme a something of a numbing assault.
But for his feature film debut, Seth MacFarlane has found a more palatable vehicle for his humour – voicing and motion capturing a crude talking teddy bear who has been best friend of John (Mark Wahlberg) for 25 years but is now coming between him and long-time love Lori (Mila Kunis).
Rather than feed off the carcass of second decade Simpsons episodes, here he is defiling Judd Apatow-style bromantic comedies, which isn't going to upset anyone.
It may not quite be the kind of main-stream boundary-pushing comedy benchmark that Team America, Something About Mary or Borat was, but it is probably the closest thing we will get this year and has already been enough to make it a big hit in the States.
MacFarlane's brand of humour is an all-encompassing form of casual knock about cruelty. One of the less obvious offences is Wahlberg's character being called John Bennett, a reference to the six-year-old beauty pageant queen who was murdered, Jon Ben�t Ramsey. Hey, they don't mean nothing by it, though, they are just trying to give the appearance of a protective layer over them and the viewer – because we laugh at it, because we get it, we'll be OK. It may push the boundaries of good taste but it is fundamentally a very safe and reassuring piece.
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There's lot of pot humour which is a little ironic because the film has the memory of an elephant; almost every fourth joke is an 1980s pop culture reference. It is a gleeful wallow in contemporary perpetual adolescence, a teen
comedy for the middle-aged.
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I laughed like a drain, but I think a line was crossed in the flashback to when John and Lori meet, which is done as a parody of The Saturday Night Fever parody from the late 1970s (almost 80s) parody film Airplane!
Director: Seth MacFarlane
Starring: Mark Wahlberg, Mila Kunis, Seth Macfarlane, Joel Mchale, Giovanni Ribisi and Jessica Barth
Length: 105 mins