First of all, I feel the need to apologize to any of our readers in Boston who may be offended by my above title. Making fun of your traditional Bostonian accents is not something I do every day. It is, however, something through which audiences have had to suffer for not one, but two Ted movies from Seth MacFarlane. I’m not sure if this is offensive to the audience of New England. I know that MacFarlane was born in Connecticut, so technically he falls under the purview of “I’m from there, so I’m exempt from being completely offensive.” Then again, I’ve watched the media tear at our nation’s first black President all week for saying the N-word for the first time in public, so what do I know? Are people in Boston offended by the gross generalizations that Ted and now Ted 2 have made about your city. That your women are loose, your men are ugly bums with shamrock tattoos on their calfs and that every third word in your vernacular is “fuck”?
I’d like to be offended on your behalf Boston, but if even a little bit of this aggressive stereotyping is true, you probably think these movies are really funny.
For my part, I have also found some laughs within MacFarlane’s franchise about a rude-talking Teddy bear and his best friend, Mark Wahlberg. To the first movie’s credit, a lot of the ridiculously crass, misogynist “humor” was broken up with some strange, yet well-placed nerd stuff. The obsession of the main characters with Flash Gordon and the subsequent Sam Jones cameo is a perfect example. Every once in a while, in between utilizing humor so basic that calling it gutter humor might be too high praise and having to explain a number of jokes within the movie itself, Seth MacFarlane finds some genuine laughs.
The other benefit that fueled my general enjoyment of the first Ted is that it had this fairy tale energy to it. Narrated by Patrick Stewart, it told the story of a man and his magical bear. Resting comfortably on a tale of friendship and benefiting greatly from every moment of Mila Kunis screen time, Ted was an enjoyable, albeit completely forgettable experience.
A lot of that is also true for Ted 2, except one very important difference: there’s no energy. The second go-round is all about Ted (voiced by MacFarlane) and his quest to be legitimized as a person. In the eyes of the government, Ted is property, thus nullifying his marriage to Tami-Lynn (Jessica Barth) and preventing them from adopting a baby. It leads Ted and his old buddy John (Wahlberg) into the care of a young pot-smoking lawyer named Samantha L. Jackson (Amanda Seyfried) as they take Ted’s case to court to fight for his civil rights.
The entire story is clunky. From early diversions centered around Ted’s quest to find someone to artificially inseminate his wife, which yields jokes about being Mark Wahlberg being covered in semen and the duo attempting to give Tom Brady a hand-job, to Ted and Tami-Lynn’s marital problems, the actual story of Ted 2 is listless and has the feeling that it was slapped together by 30 writers and a white board. Unlike the first movie, the sequel struggles to tell a coherent story. It suffers from the most unfortunate answer to the immortal sequel question of “what do we do next?” It’s answer is to just do everything, even if it doesn’t make sense.
There are, however, plenty of little moments that make Ted 2 enjoyable during its 115 minute runtime. Amanda Seyfried is delightful, even if the film spends an extraneous amount of time comparing the size of her eyes to Gollum from Lord of the Rings. She even gets to put her lovely singing voice to work with a guitar and a campfire.
And there are plenty of cameos, including quite possibly the best use of the Jurassic Park theme song this summer. Patrick Warburton returns and is now dating Star Trek alum Michael Dorn instead of his previous love, Ryan Reynolds. The two end up together at Comic-Con, the set piece for the film’s climax, in a way that will be pleasing along the lines of Sam Jones’ appearance in the first film. Liam Neeson also shows up to buy cereal. I don’t think there’s anything more I need to say about that last one.
So yes, Ted 2 is yet another stupid movie from Seth MacFarlane. He’s still the guy who tells a joke, then feels the need to explain it before moving on. There’s some comedic value in that. I know, because sometime’s I’m that guy at the party. But it’s not a strategy that has much longevity. And on top of that, the allure of a teddy bear saying “fuck” a lot has worn off a bit after the first Ted. It’s hard to imagine anything fresh and new for this franchise the second time around, which make its “more of the same” existence not the least bit surprising.
Then again, I’d be lying to you if I didn’t say that it made me laugh. Taken apart and separated into a small group of short films, Ted 2 has some brilliance. But stitched together with whatever the hell else is going on in this movie and we get what we’ve been given before: a soon-to-be-forgotten movie that had a few very funny moments.
The Upside: There are funny cameos and plenty of delightful Amanda Seyfried moments.
The Downside: When it’s not being funny in spurts, the movie grinds to a halt with its lack of energy.
On the Side: This is the first time Mark Wahlberg has appeared in both the original and sequel of a franchise. He’s now a franchise star.