The first movie directed by Seth MacFarlane, the creator of TV’s “Family Guy,” is largely a hoot with a classic touching end to boot. He also gives a bravura voiceover performance as a teddy bear brought to life by a childhood wish against Mark Wahlberg, who plays his owner. The cute kids’ companion matures into a rather profane yet still lovable stuffed party animal who in time creates issues for his human pal. Yeah, the film occasionally dips low and breaks no new ground. Yet it provides a steady stream of chuckles and also is suffused with the atmosphere of its Boston setting. And amidst the good fun it also tells a tale about maturing without leaving behind the best lifelong pal.
I’m in the minority among critics with this flick but will still give it a qualified mention. Most seemed to think it was a fairly worthy look at the wild life of male strippers, and will have to admit that Matthew McConaughey’s turn as a proprietor of one such club is a nifty bit of acting. But the highly touted newcomer Channing Tatum can barely act his way out of a paper bag and for all his stature as a hot beefcake stud strikes me as a rather funny looking fellow (his odd little ears sticking out of his strangely shaped head seem irksome to me and hardly handsome, but again, I seem to be in the minority.) Consider it light entertainment that for all its tacky setting isn’t too offensive on that count. And hey, if you enjoy seeing prancing male hardbodies, it’s almost G-rated soft porn one can’t feel too guilty about as a pleasure.
I’ll admit it: I’m a fan of Ricky Gervais, especially his offbeat and self-deprecating approach to humor that was such a hit in his original British TV series of “The Office” and “Extras.” His 2009 directorial debut also finds me slightly in the minority as compared to other critics. I found its premise – a world in which everyone tells the truth until Gervais’ writer main character stumbles onto lying and how it might possibly win him his big love that’s out of his league – a source of some genuine major and frequent laughs as the film sets up the situation. The denouement that follows does get a wee bit soapy and stumbles some. But aside from telling a funny and also (if you are so inclined) touching story, its dramatic device does make for some interesting reflections on human nature and communication.
From The Progressive Populist, March 1, 2013
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