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Clicker | A new scene: 'Family Guy' creator reels in talents to test luck on the silver screen

Staff Writer

Published: Monday, April 11, 2011

Updated: Thursday, June 16, 2011 16:06

Over the last decade, it seems as if many of today's successful feature-film actors, directors and producers have invaded our living room cable boxes (or satellite dishes, if you continue to live in the 1970s). We have Mark Wahlberg and Martin Scorsese cranking out HBO hits, Jennifer Lopez judging "American Idol," and even James Franco stirring up some soap drama on "General Hospital." 

Well, considering he has already imprinted his iconic mark on animated television, Seth MacFarlane — creator of "Family Guy," "American Dad" and "The Cleveland Show" — has decided to stir things up by taking his talents to the silver screen.

MacFarlane's comedy, "Ted," is set for release in July 2012, and production has just begun with Universal Studios and Media Rights Capitol. With the writing and direction of MacFarlane himself, the story follows John, a 33-year-old newly engaged male, in a quest to tame his childhood teddy bear, a stuffed animal he so wished to bring to life as a child. Ted, John's clever name for the bear, has grown into a degenerate alcoholic and chauvinistic pig, and is now affecting John's engagement to fiancée Lori. Basically, Ted is a Republican Brian Griffin, and the duo's dynamic is most likely comparable to that of Stewie Griffin and his cotton-filled partner-in-prime, Rupert. An absurd premise, I know, but its originality will work toward the film's strengths.

"There's absolutely no way it's going to be bad," said Nico Enoch, a junior retail management major. "Seth MacFarlane is just too good at what he does."

With a well-renowned and reputable cast already on board, the feature will undoubtedly bring in box office success. Wahlberg has signed on to play John, with Mila Kunis, the voice of Meg Griffin in "Family Guy," as Lori. Also, MacFarlane's got Giovanni Ribisi of "Avatar" to take on the role of Donny, an obsessive individual who stalks Ted. Rumored to have joined the team is John McHale of "The Soup" and "Community" as Rex, Lori's creepy boss who has the hots for her. Oh, and did I mentioned MacFarlane is the voice for Ted? Not hard to believe, considering he's the genius behind all of the favorable characters on his shows.

Critics seem most interested in viewing how well MacFarlane makes the transition from animated short to full-length feature. 

"For the amount of pop culture references MacFarlane makes to films, the guy has to know a thing or two about what makes a good one," said Alexandra Gwynn, a junior television, radio and film major.

If you have not yet seen one of his brilliant series for some inexplicable reason, they have all developed into portrayals of great cinematography, even for animated TV. It's easy for one to pick up on MacFarlane's keen eye for cinematic aesthetics in depicting what belongs in the camera frame and its movement. 

"He definitely knows what he's talking about," said Allison Warren, a junior television, radio and film major. "‘Family Guy' is constructed very similarly to a motion picture."

Conceptually, the film can't go wrong. MacFarlane is too intelligent of a writer to create something mediocre. And if it isn't funny, you can guarantee he'll drag it out until he gets a laugh out of us. 

However, I'm interested to see how he sets up his jokes. We're all used to his "cut-away" asides, in which he creates humor out of something having nothing to do with the topic.  He's going to have to adhere to a realistic (or at least an understandably unrealistic) screenplay format. 

But it's been done before. Mike Judge, animator for "Beavis and Butthead" and "King of the Hill," made the hysterical "Office Space" and "Idiocracy," all while making a name for himself in cinema. If he can do it, there's no doubt MacFarlane can. 

So let's recap: MacFarlane's conceptual vision includes Wahlberg, Kunis and McHale. Throw these all together, and the ingredients can't help but make gold. Not to mention, who wouldn't want to see a sexist teddy bear drinking a martini and wreaking havoc? A soulless human being, that's who.

raparks@syr.edu

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