Two’s company, three’s a crowd in Ted, a deliciously foul-mouthed buddy comedy about the unshakable bond between slacker John (Mark Wahlberg) and best friend Ted (voiced by writer-director Seth MacFarlane), a stuffed bear who magically came to life on Christmas Day 1985 and now threatens John’s burgeoning romance with high-flying girlfriend, Lori (Mila Kunis). MacFarlane snaffles the best lines as the bong-smoking toy, who is forced to stand on his own two paws for the first time. Wahlberg is well suited to the role of a goofy hopeless romantic and screen chemistry with Kunis simmers, though never quite boils. Digital effects are excellent, seamlessly melding with live action in hare-brained action sequences. A running gag about a classic 1980 film results in a wonderful cameo to fan the flames of our wistful nostalgia.
Sound Of My Voice (15)
Shot largely within the claustrophobic confines of a basement lair on a minuscule budget, Sound Of My Voice is a cinematic conundrum that steps ambiguity and suggestion upon inference and innuendo, leaving us guessing about the ulterior motives of a cult in San Fernando Valley led by the messianic Maggie (Brit Marling), who claims to be a time travelling prophet from 2054. Director Zal Batmanglij gives nothing away, generating nail-biting suspense as two filmmakers (Christopher Denham, Nicole Vicius) infiltrate the cult to expose Maggie as a charlatan and get far more than they bargained for. The script is lean and precise, taking our breath away during a purifying ritual that requires disciples to expel the contents of their stomachs en masse. An ambitious final flourish lingers tantalisingly in the memory.
Diary Of A Wimpy Kid: Dog Days (U)
Based on Jeff Kinney’s best-selling series, Diary Of A Wimpy Kid: Dog Days continues the trials of wise-cracking tyke Greg Heffley (Zachary Gordon) as he faces a miserable summer bonding with his father (Steve Zahn) and pining for pretty classmate Holly (Peyton List). As portrayed on the big screen, Greg is a deeply dislikeable and selfish lead character so we can’t muster any sympathy for the brat in his hour of need. David Bowers’s soulless sequel contrives several humourless set pieces – Greg losing his swimming trunks as he tumbles from a 10m diving board, a disastrous sweet 16 party – that fail to raise a smile. Kinney has published three further books since Dog Days, providing the very real possibility that Greg will torment us for years to come. Pray for salvation.