Ted 2 (2015)
Directed by Seth McFarlane
Over time, Seth MacFarlane has shown us that, if nothing else, he has a penchant for old fashioned showmanship. When he's hosting the Oscars it's a welcome sight, but it's a little out of place in a modern comedy, even if it just for the title sequence. But therein lies the problem, because from the jump we're treated to a movie entirely unfocused, not sure exactly where its entertainment should come from: sincerity, drama, or comedy and even then, what kind of comedy?
Audiences happily suspend disbelief to spend a couple hours out of our own shoes and see someone else's story. And unfortunately, MacFarlane tells us the story of a living teddy bear, fighting for his civil rights, and his best friend, instead of a grown man fighting for his best friend, who happens to be a living teddy bear. That magic is what made the first movie so infectiously funny. But MacFarlane tries to force us, instead, to watch the bear's story and struggle. And part of that, apparently, is the simple draw of watching an animated teddy bear dance along to complex choreography of Broadway proportions. Maybe MacFarlane wanted it to be funny, but it foreshadows a lot of the oncoming movie: silence during obvious joke attempts.
At the start, Mark Wahlberg's John Bennett is at Ted's wedding, who's getting married to Tami-Lynn. We soon find out that John's been divorced for six months. (Wow, that makes the original Ted a little fucked up.) Jump ahead three years and through some marital issues, Ted and Tami-Lynn agree to try and have a baby. Ted has no dick, so they look for a sperm donor; then they find out Tami-Lynn is infertile, so they choose to adopt; they get turned down by the adoption agency and we get to the crux of the film: Ted is legally considered property by the government, and therefore doesn't have any civil rights. He decides to sue.
We're subjected to a further hour and a half, or thereabouts, of loosely connected storytelling featuring typical MacFarlanisms. We get gag humor inserted that holds no contextual significance (see South Park's Cartoon Wars), expert cameos, drug and dick gags, and porn jokes. Unfortunately, MacFarlane seems to struggle with his desired sense of humor. We're just as likely to get highbrow, linguistic-based humor and political and pop culture references as we are to get dick jokes and a thick mouthful of semen.
A lot of what made the original Ted movie so good seems to be missing in this follow up. Ted knew what it was and succeeded in what it tried to do. It's story was well-rounded and displayed a definitive character arc with lessons and growth. Ted 2 throws all of that out the window. John and Ted's changes and maturation from the previous film are gone, and although the overarching themes of this movie could prove to be utterly relevant to the current social climate that importance is shunted to the side by the new attitude: fuck growth and learning from anything, be yourself and do lots of drugs... forever.
So in the end, what we have is a mediocre story serving us a shitty romance that's loosely veiled under a fight for civil rights that all comes together to bring us a string of badly contextualized humor. That doesn't mean this movie isn't funny, it certainly is, but there's just as many jokes that miss the mark. It's really a shame, because MacFarlane is actually a great comedian with very relevant humor who can skillfully create drama and tension. His movies could be Oscar-bait if only his stories and jokes were packaged better with more of a focus on what's being made. Are we getting a touching comedy of two friends drifting apart and then back together? Are we getting a sex-heavy masterpiece of a loyal wingman helping his friend get back into the game? Or are we getting a romantic comedy that shares space with a creepy thriller amid the fight for civil rights?
Luckily, I'm a fan of MacFarlane's work. So Ted 2 actually works for me, up to a point. In between all of the LOL kinda jokes are groans of annoyance. There's really only one twist in the story, but that's watched between the lines of a situation that's more WTF than it is understandable. I don't care about these characters as much as I did in their previous outing but they still manage to wrangle a few laughs out of me. MacFarlane tried too much with this movie: comedy, romance, drama, thriller... Its the kind of storyline that would work better episodically. That's to say that his formula, which has worked for other projects, doesn't work so well here. In fact, it almost brings out an annoyance of the this-has-gone-on-too-long variety.
- Acting – 12 / 20
- Story – 8 / 20
- Cinematography – 10 / 20
- Soundtrack – 10 / 10
- Entertainment Factor – 7 / 10
- Comedy – 7 / 10
- Other – 8 / 10
TL;DR: If you're a fan of MacFarlane's other work then you'll be thoroughly enthused by his Family Guyesque film. The movie has a very particular sheen about it, but while the story can be hard to bear and the movie a little unfocused, the humor and general atmosphere is still entertaining. It's not the best way to spend 2 hours but it has some laughs.