** (out of 5)
June 26, 2015
Mark Wahlberg as JOHN
Seth MacFarlane as TED
Amanda Seyfried as SAMANTHA
Jessica Barth as TAMI-LYNN
Giovanni Ribisi as DONNY
Morgan Freeman as PATRICK MEIGHAN
Sam J. Jones as SAM JONES
Directed by: Seth MacFarlane
BY KEVIN CARR
Listen to Kevin’s radio review…
Seth MacFarlane is a pretty polarizing guy. Sure, he’s got some wildly popular television shows on FOX right now, but there’s a solid contingent of people who can’t stand him. If you fall into that population, you likely will not want to see “Ted 2,” and you probably didn’t see the first one.
I happen to like a lot of what MacFarlane does. I like “Family Guy” and “American Dad.” I enjoyed the first “Ted” quite a bit more than I expected, and I even liked “A Million Ways to Die in the West.” I was cautiously optimistic about the sequel “Ted 2.”
Because doing an originally unplanned sequel to an unexpected hit often results in mediocrity. Sadly, and predictably, that’s what we get with “Ted 2.”
In my mind’s eye, I imagine the planning sessions at Universal went something like this… Executives and writers gathered in a room and all agreed that they needed to make a sequel to “Ted.” Then someone said, “What’s it about?” And the response was obviously: “We have no idea. But let’s start writing some jokes now.”
It’s not that there’s no story to “Ted 2.” There is, and actually it works pretty well in concept form. Ted (MacFarlane) marries his white trash girlfriend Tami-Lynn (Jessica Barth). Because he’s a teddy bear that’s not anatomically correct, they can’t actually procreate, so they decide to adopt a baby. However, when they start the process, the state of Massachusetts informs them that they do not consider Ted a person, and thus he has no rights. This dovetails into a legal battle in which Ted sues the state for his civil rights.
This storyline is both a pretty good set-up and a potential minefield. While it’s not as fun and simple as the story from the first film (in which a kidnapper wants to keep Ted for himself), it seems to try to make legal and social points in the greater scheme of things. But is a movie in which a talking teddy bear smokes too much pot really the best way to make these points?
Sure, there are some funny moments in the film, but contrary to what MacFarlane has promised on social media, the funniest moments are indeed in the trailer (and are thus softened from their actual comedic impact when they eventually show up on screen). And while MacFarlane is known for his non-sequitur delivery of gags on “Family Guy,” the randomness of the humor just seems too random here. It feels like the writers came up with a bundle of gags and desperately tried to make them fit into the script, as opposed to the tangential charm of “Family Guy.”
There are other problems with the film that many unplanned sequels suffer from. Mila Kunis is not in the film, so there’s a rough explanation of her absence which actually negates a lot of the emotional core of the first film. Mark Wahlberg doesn’t have much to do in the movie, relegating him to an Ed McMahon sidekick to Ted.
Finally, the movie has doubled-down on the weed jokes, which just makes everything seem dumber. It even goes as far to have Amanda Seyfried’s character of their lawyer be a chronic marijuana user. Why? Apparently it’s to get more weed jokes and have an excuse for someone to pull out a bong shaped like a giant penis. This bothers me not because of the weed humor (though I have never been a fan of pot-head movies), but rather because it makes her character kind of pointless. After all, we’re presented with a junior lawyer who has never won a case but smokes more weed than Snoop Dogg. No wonder things don’t work out great for their case at first.
In the end, there are some laughs to “Ted 2,” but not nearly enough to justify seeking this movie out beyond its soon-to-happen Netflix run. And maybe that’s the point because pot-head movies tend to do best on home video with their core audience so unmotivated, they can barely get off the couch.