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For more than a decade, Seth MacFarlane has stretched the envelope of comedy about as far as it can go as the visionary behind the hit television shows “Family Guy,” “American Dad!” and “The Cleveland Show.” Now he brings his boundary-pushing brand of humor to the big screen for the first time as writer, director, producer and voice star of ‘Ted’.
In the live-action/CG-animated comedy, MacFarlane tells the story of John Bennett (Mark Wahlberg of ‘The Other Guys’, ‘Contraband’), a grown man whose simple childhood wish brought his cherished teddy bear to life. Almost 30 years later, the fairy tale is very much over. Ted is reluctant to leave John’s side…to the increasing annoyance of John’s only-so-patient girlfriend, Lori Collins (Mila Kunis of ‘Friends With Benefits’, ‘Black Swan’).
Though Lori’s displeasure with John is exacerbated by his dead-end career and days spent smoking weed and drinking beers with Ted, she’s not the one who is the most frustrated with him. As John struggles to figure out a way to navigate this thing called adulthood, it will take the unexpected help of his boyhood toy to make the leap from man-child to a grown-ass man.
Shooting in Boston
‘Ted’ is told in the Boston, Massachusetts, of today. The filmmakers agree that you provide realism to a completely unrealistic story when you set the tale in an actual place. MacFarlane asserts: ““Family Guy” is set in Rhode Island because that’s one more thing that helps lend reality to something that’s out there, and with this movie we took the same tact and set it in Boston. Despite the fact that we’re dealing with a talking teddy bear, this is, in effect, the real world. In this universe, Ted’s presence is completely normal, which means that everything else about it had to be completely real.”
Producer Jason Clark continues that the team did not want to overstate the level of fantasy already inherent in the story. He says: “We didn’t want to create an inauthentic, unnamed urban locale. We wanted it to play out in a very specific location, which is what we delivered with Boston.”
Production designer Stephen Lineweaver was charged with creating a real world in which a talking teddy bear shares the streets with regular humans. “We created an array of interesting environments, including Donny the obsessed stalker’s wonderful and creepy house. We also designed our spaces to allow us to see things from a small bear’s eye level, which brings a whole new perspective and look to the movie.”
One of the filmmakers’ goals was to find an iconic location to shoot the final moments of the film’s climactic chase sequence through Boston. To their excitement, the Boston Red Sox organization agreed to allow them to film in Fenway Park, the venerable baseball stadium that opened in 1912. However, the giant lighting tower that Ted and Donny climb was reproduced on a stage.
During one of the nights lensing at Fenway, the production was graced with the presence of the Stanley Cup, the ice hockey trophy then recently won by the Boston Bruins. As filming continued atop the park’s Green Monster above left field, cast and crew raced to the field’s first-base line field to be photographed with the great silver trophy.
Donny and his awkward, aggressive 10-year-old son, Robert (played by ‘The Hangover Part II’’s Aedin Mincks), live in a house that oozes menace. According to Lineweaver: “We wanted to create a place that was incredibly creepy and weird, and we used a sense of falling-down architecture. Donny has never left the house, but his father has died or gone away. Since Donny is a different kind of creepy from his father, we updated the badly worn ’80s green leather couch and some of the chrome but kept the disparate pieces made of cheap laminated wood that were his father’s.”
The very wealthy Rex lives in a house described by Lineweaver as “over the top.” He shares of this home that serves as a setting for the film’s extravagant party: “In New England, you don’t see many 10,000-square-foot modernist houses on the beach.” The actual house sits in a suburb north of Boston called Swampscott.
The climax at Fenway was just one of the many sequences filmed in key Boston locations. Norah Jones’ concert takes place at the Hatch Shell on the Charles River, home of the Boston Pops’ July 4th extravaganzas; John and Ted get high and run into Donny for the first time at the beautifully manicured Boston Public Garden, home of the famous swan boats; and John tells Ted that Ted has to move out while standing amidst the great tanks in the New England Aquarium. These beautiful locations helped the production set the stage properly for the Boston setting.
Image Courtesy of Ted