Reviewed by GREG KING
Director: Seth MacFarlane
Stars: Mark Wahlberg, Seth MacFarlane, Amanda Seyfried, Jessica Barth, Morgan Freeman, Giovanni Ribisi, John Carroll Lynch, Sam J Jones, Patrick Warburton, Michael Dorn, Bill Smitrovich, John Slattery, Ron Canada, Liam Neeson, Cocoa Brown, Dennis Haysbert, Patrick Stewart, Sebastian Arcelus, Tom Brady, Jay Leno.
Created by Seth MacFarlane in the 2012, Ted was an offbeat take on the usual buddy formula. Ted told the story of a teddy bear, given to a lonely young boy named John Bennett for a Christmas present, which magically come alive as the result of a wish. Ted was a foul mouthed bong smoking teddy bear that became a life long friend for the slacker John as he grew up. The original Ted went on to become the highest grossing R-rated comedy at the box office, so it seemed inevitable that we now get this largely unnecessary sequel. The antics and relentless swearing of Ted quickly wore out its welcome in the first film, and second time around the formula seems a little tiresome and his schtick has lost much of its shock value.
When the film opens, Ted has married long time girl friend Tami-Lynn (Jessica Barth), the trashy check out chick from the supermarket where he worked. But when cracks appear in the union, Ted suggests that the couple have a child. But the state of Massachusetts has other ideas, and they annul the marriage, declaring that Ted is property, not a person, therefore unable to adopt. Thus sets in motion a long and protracted legal battle to grant Ted his inalienable rights as guaranteed by the Constitution.
Ted and John (Mark Wahlberg, reprising his role) gain legal help from Samantha L Jackson (a game Amanda Seyfried), a tyro dope-smoking lawyer who has no idea who her namesake is. And she barely has any knowledge of pop cultural icons. But they engage her to fight for what they know is right. The legal battle taps into the whole civil rights movement and the push for marriage equality that is very much in the news at the moment. However, MacFarlane doesn’t seem to take advantage of this concept for any relevant and biting commentary; rather it is the starting point for a number of tasteless jokes that largely fall flat.
And Ted’s nemesis, the crazed and sleazy Donny (a twitchy Giovanni Ribisi, who plays shady, villainous characters well) returns. He works as a janitor at Hasbro, the giant toy company, and he manages to convince the CEO (John Caroll Lynch) that they should kidnap Ted, cut him open to find out what makes him tick and then produce a line of talking Teddy bears to make a fortune.
MacFarlane is a lazy writer who sets up lots of situations but doesn’t quite know how to sell the killer punch line. Some of the gags here are also recycled from his Family Guy tv show. Much of the humour here is homophobic, misogynist, racist, sexist and down right offensive at times. And a climactic scene set during a Comic Con convention just adds a nasty edge to the material as Patrick Warburton and Star Trek‘s Michael Dorn play a gay couple who delight in beating up the nerds.
Apart from Mila Kunis, the key cast from the first film return. Wahlberg is especially game with some physical comedy and a number of embarrassing scenarios. MacFarlane seems to have called in a number of favours too as the film is crammed with a number of celebrity cameos, with the likes of Sam Jones (the former Flash Gordon himself), NFL superstar Tom Brady, Liam Neeson, and even Jay Leno popping up and sending up their own image. And Morgan Freeman is wasted in a fairly thankless role as Patrick Meighan, a noted civil rights lawyer.
With an overly generous running time of two hours the film is too long and there is a lot of padding. MacFarlane’s direction is uneven, and the pace lags several times. There are a few gags that hit the mark, and but plenty more that miss. MacFarlane also ups the gross out factor here with a scene in a sperm bank storage room, a new low in crass comedy.