Teddy movie review: Novel premise aside, director Shakti Soundar Rajan's film has little going for it

For a thriller, it offers no real thrills. For a comedy, the jokes don’t land. For a fantasy film, it is unimaginative. Overall, it’s barely watchable.

Ranjani Krishnakumar March 12, 2021 13:10:56 IST

2/5

The hero is a superhuman. He is well-read — we see him in the library multiple times in the film. He can remember everything he ever saw, read or heard. He is skilled in everything from stock markets to jiu-jitsu. He’s obsessive about cleanliness and order. Oh, he’s even a walking talking lie detector. Yet, the books he’s seen reading are practically high-school level: Paulo Coelho, Atlas Shrugged, Who Moved My Cheese, and Adolf Hitler for good measure. If you have it in you not to question these inconsistencies, Teddy is a watchable fare.

Teddy is the story of Srividya, a college student. She is kidnapped from a hospital and is taken to for a minor surgery. While her kidnappers keep her in a medically induced coma, she has an out of body experience, where she gets into the body of a teddy bear. She, as Teddy, seeks Shiva, the hero’s help in reuniting with her body.

The biggest strength of Teddy is the eponymous stuffed toy itself. It carries in it an endearing personality, a combination of curiosity, nonchalance and purposefulness. The animators of the film do a fantastic job in bringing the character to life, without unnecessary exaggeration or dramatisation.

In making the heroine a genderless stuffed toy, writer-director Shakti Soundar Rajan presents an interesting premise: If we stopped looking at the heroine as an adult woman and treated her as a juvenile doll, would her loosu ponnu-like behaviour be less grating?

In Teddy, it is, in fact, less grating. The carefree spirit fits better on the teddy bear. Her ability to move around unnoticed in scary corners of the world feels less questionable. The lack of sexual tension between the protagonists is a breath of fresh air. The camaraderie between the teddy and Sathish, who plays Shiva’s friend, is also heartening. Most importantly, the teddy plays an active role in moving the story forward, multiple times over.

Once the novelty fades though, there is little going for Teddy. The plot is predictable. The fight scenes turn repetitive. The villain is meek. There is little by way of narrative tension — the entire crime is unravelled by tailing vehicles, posting selfies, sending location on WhatsApp and asking people stern questions. To say nothing of the conveniences like Karunakaran’s character, someone who works at the Indian embassy in Azerbaijan, serendipitously showing up to help.

The lesser said about performances the better. Arya gives the teddy bear a good fight in keeping an emotionless face. But Satish and Karunakaran show us the mercy of making as few jokes as possible.

Teddy has an interesting premise. It also has an amusing way of exploring that premise. But nothing else is compelling. For a thriller, it offers no real thrills. For a comedy, the jokes don’t land. For a fantasy film, it is unimaginative. Overall, it’s barely watchable.

Rating: **

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