A man living his childhood dream with his wise-cracking, dirty-talking teddy bear BFF ... It’s not hard to believe the concept for "Ted" came from the mind of Seth MacFarlane ("Family Guy") who writes, directs and stars in the film (as Ted the magical talking teddy bear). But Mark Wahlberg as the boy all-grown up and sharing a bong with a stuffed animal? The same street-wise soldier, boxer and cop, the tough guy who pummels and shoots bad guys in action flicks and underdog dramas like "Contraband," "The Fighter," "Max Payne" and "Four Brothers"? The underwear-modeling, shirtless South-Boston bad boy from the Funky Bunch (sorry, but there’s no way we'll ever forget Marky Mark’s "Good Vibrations")?
Mark Wahlberg, comedy lead? Sure, why not? He’s proven his comic chops in blockbusters like "Date Night" and "The Other Guys," and in the Oscar-nominated dramedy "Boogie Nights." Even in a gritty Oscar-winning tale of corruption like "The Departed," what made Wahlberg's detective Dignam so memorable was his hilarious Southie potty mouth. The same can be said about his take on "Three Kings" Sergeant Troy Barlow, with his Lexus convertible longings (which persisted despite his chief's insisting Lexus didn't make one).
Plus, he was enough of a good-comedy sport to spoof his real-life, don't-make-fun-of-me-or-else image and scare the pants off Andy Samberg on "SNL" by crashing his "Mark Wahlberg Talks to Animals" skit. “Hey Donkey, how’s it going … say 'Hi' to your mother for me.” Arguably audiences find Wahlberg far more likable and entertaining when he's riffing on his tough-guy, mean-streets image (and accent) than actually playing the tough guy. An ever-shirtless security expert trumps a hard-knocks ring man; a laughingstock cop who can't control his temper beats a vengeful man-in-blue blasting a hole in a crook. And forget about sensitive "The Lovely Bones" Wahlberg, who resorts to whispering to convey surprise, sadness and a host of other emotions outside his usual range.
But that’s just our speculation. What does the box office say? At a glance, even "The Fighter," featuring a double threat -- Wahlberg and acting heavyweight Christian Bale -- pulled in less than his Will Ferrell team-up, "The Other Guys," while "Contraband" doesn't come close to the box office appeal of "Date Night."
It seems as much as audiences may like Mark Wahlberg as an action hero, they are really growing to love Mark Wahlberg as funny-business comedy star. They're glad to see him join the club of lovable tough-guy icons gone silly, such as The Rock (also known as Dwayne "The Tooth Fairy" Johnson) and Arnold Schwarzenegger, who laughed his way to the bank with "Kindergarten Cop." Here's hoping Wahlberg feels the same way and will continue to let us laugh at him, at least on-screen.