Seth MacFarlane's hit new comedy Ted has come under fire from health campaigners over a joke linked to motor neuron disease.
Mark Wahlberg stars in MacFarlane's directorial debut, in which the writer also voices a wise-cracking, foul-mouthed teddy bear.
In one scene, Wahlberg's character is involved in an argument and yells at his rival, "From one man to another, I hope you get Lou Gehrig's disease!"
Baseball player Lou Gehrig was diagnosed with motor neuron disease, also known as Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), in 1939. The quip caught the attention of bosses at ALS Therapy Alliance, who have slammed MacFarlane for joking about the condition.
Group spokesperson Traci Bisson says, "We want to make it clear that ALS, or Lou Gehrig's disease, is not a laughing matter for people and families suffering from this life-threatening illness. The punch line in the movie Ted comes at the expense of people afflicted with ALS."
"We just want to stop this alarming trend before it becomes too widespread. We work every day with a dedicated community of supporters to raise awareness and funds, aiming to wipe out ALS."
"We hope the filmmakers move beyond the unfortunate way Lou Gehrig's disease is used in the film and join us in finding a positive way to raise awareness and research funding to help find a cure."