‘Ted 2’ Review
After the massive failure of his last film, Seth MacFarlane returns to the comedy that placed him on the cinematic map with Ted 2. The continuing story of the talking, lower class Bostonian stuffed bear is a refreshing encapsulation of what MacFarlane does best: crack jokes about drugs, sex, and his New England past while centering the story on a touching message that makes us feel for the characters. While Ted 2 does have all these elements, and the callbacks to the original film are just as entertaining as some of the new material, what we find is that there is hardly any new material. Dotted with moments that make us chuckle – some even not previously seen in the trailers – the film does have spunk (no pun intended) and MacFarlane’s comedic voice, but the material isn’t evolving or saying anything new, and it feels as though he might have no more to give. With the jokes becoming repetitive, regardless of the story strength and our love for Ted himself, when the comedy doesn’t derive a giggle from our throats where it would have done in years past, perhaps it’s time to look for new inspiration.
Ted (MacFarlane) has truly made a life for himself as he marries his long-time girlfriend, Tami-Lynn (Jessica Barth), but when the couple tries to adopt a baby, Ted is told that the government doesn’t recognize him as a person, but as property. As everything, including his marriage, is stripped from him a piece at a time, Ted and his Thunder Buddy, John (Mark Wahlberg) hire pot smoking, Arizona State alumnus attorney, Samantha L. Jackson (Amanda Seyfried) to plead his case to make Ted lawfully recognized as a person. As the three work their way through precedents and several weed strains, little do they know that Ted’s stalker, Donny (Giovanni Ribisi) is hatching a plan with Hasbro’s CEO (John Carroll Lynch) to capture Ted and mass produce talking teddy bears for all.
Once again, what makes us stay for the whole of Ted 2 is the underlying story that MacFarlane crafts as the shell for his comedy. Whereas the first film brought us a story of endearing friendship and love, Ted 2 delves deeper and raises the question that has been plaguing our society for centuries: what does it mean to be a person? The film might take over an hour for its message to truly hit home, but once it does, we really begin to root for Ted to win his personhood for more reasons besides the fact that he’s a cutie with a foul mouth. However, even with lines that resonate with us in our current enflamed society (“I’m doing this for the homos”), it is the simple idea of wanting to matter and live life to the fullest in Ted 2’s story that creates characters that we care for and want to come out on top of the society trying to put them down, even when they are defeated time and time again. The guts of the film are what make it tick, and MacFarlane has created another sweet, resonant story that once it hits its stride is very compelling.
Mark Wahlberg returns strong as a brokenhearted John, who is suffering off the back of his divorce from Mila Kunis. Wahlberg is in his element as John, as he takes on his strong Boston accent effortlessly and simply plays himself. His on screen chemistry with MacFarlane works just as brilliantly as it did the first time around, and their friendship remains the strong beat of the film. Amanda Seyfried, unfortunately, is the weak link in the cast, and she doesn’t quite hit the right tone of the film, though she does have some great moments with Wahlberg and MacFarlane. Giovanni Ribisi is once again creepy as ever, but it is Jessica Barth who is the surprise of the film. With more screen time and a heftier story, she does a great job building Tami-Lynn’s character from just the pretty face who can stand up for herself that we saw in the original film. She brings a human side to the white trash Boston girl as her deep love for Ted drives her forward, and it was great to see Barth being able to make something of her originally stereotypical character.
Unfortunately, it is the flesh of the script and comedy itself that drag the film into the doldrums of silliness and sometimes moments where we ask ourselves why. Much like the original, Ted 2 is flush with pop culture references and more than a light sprinkling of crude humor, and for half the film it is effective and well done. The wave of pointless celebrity cameos is where the downfall begins, Liam Neeson’s being markedly innocuous, though Tom Brady’s piece of the story resonates particularly well and was quite funny. Overall, though we might laugh once or at the beginning of a joke, more often than not, the joke carries on past its humorous point, a trait that has become inherent (or simply more apparent through the years) with MacFarlane’s comedy, seen to sad failure in A Million Ways to Die in the West.
Though he has recovered from the downturn of his most recent film and revived himself somewhat in Ted 2, MacFarlane’s comedic voice, the more we hear it, is becoming repetitive, and the same material is being used over and over again, dulling the effectiveness of its ability to hit our funny bone. Half of Ted 2 consists of the feeling that MacFarlane is laughing at himself with jokes tailored to him specifically, and the only truly funny aspects became the pop culture references and callbacks to original jokes from the original. Though it is not a disappointment as such because of the strength of the story and the clever joke every now and then, Ted 2 is on par with its original, which also held the same feeling of being cute, funny, but half of it is really for Seth.(3 / 5)
(Photos copyright: Universal Pictures)