Ted 2 (2015) / Comedy-Fantasy
MPAA Rated: R for crude and sexual content, pervasive language, and some drug use
Running Time: 115 min.
Cast: Mark Wahlberg, Seth MacFarlane (voice), Amanda Seyfried, Jessica Barth, John Carroll Lynch, Giovanni Ribisi, Sam J. Jones, Morgan Freeman, Patrick Warburton, John Slattery, Michael Dorn
Small role: Liam Neeson, Dennis Haysbert, Patrick Stewart (voice), Tom Brady, Jay Leno, Jimmy Kimmel, Kate McKinnin, Bobby Moynahan, Taran Killam, Ralph Garman, Tara Strong (voice), Tiffany
Director: Seth MacFarlane
Screenplay:Seth MacFarlane, Alec Sulkin, Wellesley Wild
Review published June 27, 2015
After A Million Ways to Die in the West failed to catch fire at the box office or among critics, Seth MacFarlane returns to familiar territory by delivering a sequel to his massively popular foray into films, Ted, which scored over a half-billion dollars in ticket sales in its 2012 release. It's hard to follow-up a joke-a-minute movie with a sequel, primarily because just about all of the best and freshest gags were put into the first film, while a sequel has try to mine from the same cave of ideas and hope it can find more secret gems that were somehow left behind.
Ted 2 is set about a half-year out from the end of Ted, with divorced John Bennett (Wahlberg, The Gambler) not quite ready to jump back into a relationship, while his best friend Ted, his teddy bear come to life, seems to be headed for a break-up of his own with Tami-Lynn (Barth), his wife and co-worker. Thinking it will be the spark to give his marriage its second wind, Ted decides what they really need is to have a kid, but they find that neither party is capable of making this happen. Going the adoption route against better judgment, Ted is deemed to not have the rights of a human being, despite his sentience, as he is just someone's property, which not only means he can't adopt, but he also can't be married or even have a job, so he loses those too. To get his life back, Ted must take the issue to court on the hope that he can be everything he wants to be, securing the services of spunky-but-unproven lawyer Sam L. Jackson (Seyfried, While We're Young), but evil Donny (Ribisi, Selma) returns to try to get a hold of Ted to dissect him in order to discover how he can make a line of living teddy bears for everyone to have, which will be easier to get away with while Ted is deemed property instead of a person.
As you can tell from the above plot synopsis, this is a plot that's probably too complicated for what is basiically just a dumb, raunchy comedy meant to make you laugh. This becomes increasingly burdensome the more MacFarlane deals with it, which means that most of the movie's laughs come in the first third of the film, where things are as light and free as can be (as evidenced by a fun musical dance number during the opening credits), and begins to peter out once we get to the civil rights case. Had Ted 2's final half been just about Ted's fight for his rights, perhaps it might have been able to coast on good will for those who laughed enough at the outset, but MacFarlane goes a step too far by re-introducing another subplot development in crackpot nemesis Donny for more of the "capture the bear" antics that are not only not funny, but we've already seen him do this before in 2012's Ted, where it was also not very amusing. At a bloated 115 minutes, it's easily 20 minutes too long, chock full of superfluous and recurring gags that would have been better relegated to an end-credit reel, or a deleted scene segment of the Blu-ray release.
Wahlberg's role switches here from star to sidekick, letting MacFarlane's titular animated bear steer most of the film's story beats throughout. Mila Kunis sits it out this time, reportedly due to being pregnant, ironically given the film's theme, while Amanda Seyfried joins the cast in order to join in on lots and lots of pot smoking gags that aren't likely to seem very funny for those not equally stoned at the moment of viewing. There are no less than three jokes about her resembling Gollum from Lord of the Rings, which is another of MacFarlane's worst tendencies: repeating jokes on the hope that it will somehow get funnier through constant call-backs. That and celebrity cameos that don't factor into the story, such as a scene in which a gruff Liam Neeson (Run All Night) shows up to try to purchase a box of Trix under the assurance that he won't be arrested for it due to its slogan ,"Trix is for kids." Only the fact that it's Neeson in Bryan Mills tough-guy mode makes it vaguely amusing.
If you didn't care for Ted, stay away, as whatever ruffled your feathers in 2012 will probably do the same here, only more so. There are a handful of moments that may make you chuckle, but so many more jokes are misfires, and with the bulk of the humor coming from body fluid, pot, racial and gay-panic humor, it quickly can turn into a demoralizing experience for viewers who've grown weary at movies that deliver on tasteless sight gags as a crutch to comedy when cleverness and wit are absent. That and incessant pop-culture references seemingly just to get you to laugh from the remembrance of iconic things you may have enjoyed in your childhood, like The Breakfast Club, Revenge of the Nerds, Planes Trains and Automobiles, Jurassic Park, Star Wars, and Beetlejuice, woven into the jokes without actually tying them in to the story at hand.
Ted 2 should forever crown MacFarlane as the king of the throwbacks, throwing back to the 1980s for non-sequitur humor, also throwing back to Easter eggs for fans of "Family Guy", then throwing back to his previous movie, and even throwing back to gags we've seen just two minutes before. In fishing terms, it's like a catch too puny to bother with, leaving you tempted to throw this one back too.
-- There is yet another throwback joke at the conclusion of the end credits.
©2015 Vince Leo