TED 2 (2015)
Starring Mark Wahlberg, Amanda Seyfried, Jessica Barth, Sam J. Jones, Giovanni Ribisi, Morgan Freeman, Patrick Warburton, Michael Dorn, John Carroll Lynch, John Slattery, Liam Neeson, Dennis Haysbert, Bill Smitrovich, Jessica Szohr, Lenny Clarke, Tom Brady, Jay Leno, Kate McKinnon, Bobby Moynihan, Taran Killam, Jimmy Fallon, Jimmy Kimmel, Bill Maher, Curtis Stigers, Tiffany and the voices of Seth MacFarlane and Patrick Stewart.
Screenplay by Seth MacFarlane, Alec Sulkin and Wellesley Wild.
Directed by Seth MacFarlane.
Distributed by Universal Pictures. 115 minutes. Rated R.
Remember how a few years ago the first Ted film had us all believing that Seth MacFarlane could be a new, exciting, offbeat voice in film comedy?
Yeah, well forget it.
The best thing I can say about Ted 2 is that it’s a bit better than A Million Ways To Die in the West, the film that MacFarlane let loose on the world between his two dirty-talking teddy bear films. Still, it doesn’t even come close to remembering what made the original Ted come to life – and that film also eventually lost its way about an hour into the film.
However, even if that first film flew off the tracks with the ridiculous subplot about a deranged fan trying to kidnap Ted and make him his own (and for some reason, that stupid storyline is extended into this sequel as well), for the first 2/3s of the film, Ted was debauched and funny. Did it go too far sometimes? Hell, yes! (The prostitute poo joke comes immediately to mind…) But Ted had a wild, devil-may-care brashness. It was proudly stupid and proudly profane and there was just something weirdly satisfying about a movie about a cuddly toy who was a drinker, drug addict, sex-obsessed, fought, cursed like a sailor and was an overall menace to society.
We didn’t care about Ted’s deep inner feelings because he had no real depth, or at least none that he wasn’t willing to overwhelm with alcohol and fart jokes.
So whose brilliant idea was it to try to turn Ted 2 into a new, touchy-feely version of the bear?
Note to MacFarlane: The world really has a lot more vital human rights violations to worry about than to get hung up on the idea that a walking, talking, partying plush toy is not being legally recognized as a human being.
No matter how much MacFarlane tries to ham-handedly equate his story with the gay rights movement or racial inequality, the audience can’t help but kind of agree when a defense attorney asks the simple question: “Does your dog deserve human rights? Your cat?”
It’s not that bad a point. Ted is simply not a human. That doesn’t mean people don’t love him.
Now don’t get me wrong. Ted is still a very funny character and MacFarlane still allows him some profanely witty lines and off-the-charts anti-social behavior. However, this time around Ted spends entirely too much time gazing at his navel, talking about feelings, injustices, understanding and true love.
All of those things are just fine for a different character. But that is so not the Ted we got to know in the first film. And I’m not sure that anyone really signed up for Ted 2 thinking they would get to see a child’s toy having a dark night of the soul.
Joining him in his little mopey party is his best friend John (Mark Wahlberg), although at least his character showed those kind of tendencies the first time around. Somewhere along the way he was dumped by Mila Kunis’ character from the first film – for reasons which were left vague, though the guys seemed to be placing all the blame on her. That is somewhat amusing since it always seemed that she could do a hell of a lot better than that man-boy, but okay, I get it, John and Ted are thunder buddies, so they are going to take his side.
In the meantime, Ted has married his beloved Tami-Lynn. (The wedding is an oddball Busby Berkeley pastiche during the opening credits, leading you to wonder how many Ted 2 fans will be up on that long-dead musical director’s body of work, films such as Gold Diggers of 1933, 42nd Street and Footlight Parade.) Jessica Barth is still one of Ted‘s secret weapons as the proudly trashy Tami-Lynn, though like her husband she is given much less of interest to do in this film, mostly just pledge her love and melt at the idea of having a baby.
Of course, when you are married to a teddy bear, that can be a problem. Particularly since, as they dance around slightly, Ted has no genitals. So they consider artificial insemination (leading to an inevitable, yet disappointing scene where Ted and John mistakenly knock down a shelf full of semen samples), and when that doesn’t work, they decide to apply for an adaption.
Which sets the tortured storyline. When the courts realize that a walking talking teddy bear is trying to adopt a kid, it puts him on the government radar. He is determined not to be a human being (he is referred to as a possession in a particularly tortured slavery reference) and thus he is not able to hold a job, be married or have a child. Ted and John decide to fight it in court, finding Samantha (Amanda Seyfried is completely wasted in the role, much like she was in MacFarlane’s A Million Ways to Die in the West), a good-hearted, pot-smoking lawyer who quickly jolts John out of his post-divorce anti-dating funk as well as fighting for Ted’s rights to be human. Even though he’s really not.
In the meantime, for some reason they brought back Giovanni Ribisi’s character of Donny – the guy who knocked the first film off its sure footing – and have him try to kidnap Ted yet again. Just staging it at New York’s Comic-Con and surrounding the big chase scene and fight with cosplay monsters doesn’t make that idea any less interesting.
There are enough glimmers of the humor from the first film to make Ted 2 not be a complete waste of time, but it is certainly a letdown after its predecessor.
Jay S. Jacobs
Copyright ©2015 PopEntertainment.com. All rights reserved. Posted: December 15, 2015.