Release Date: June 26, 2015
Running Time: 108 minutes
Ted 2 is a sequel about civil rights that revels in its contradictions. It name checks the Dred Scott v. Sandford U.S. Supreme Court decision one minute and then upholds African-American stereotypes the next. It demands equality for all while being an equal opportunity offender. Its Thunder Buddies for life—walking, talking, living breathing teddy bear Ted and Mark Wahlberg’s John—want justice from the legal system but happily break the law at their pleasure. It fully embraces its undeniable love of 1980s and 1990s pop culture while cruelly dismissing the geeks and cosplayers found at fan conventions. Not that this matters to Ted 2 writer/director Seth MacFarlane. He’s just out to make jokes that are more outrageous and politically incorrect than any found in 2012’s oddly endearing Ted. MacFarlane occasionally outdoes himself—John and the MacFarlane-voiced Ted prove to be master hecklers during an improv comedy show—but these moments are few and far between. This is because MacFarlane’s too preoccupied with a plot that finds Ted embroiled in a legal battle to be recognized as a human being. Yes, Ted 2 actually has a story to tell, and at times Mac offers a well-intentioned topical civil rights allegory. However, what made Ted work so well was its refusal to be anything but a series of misadventures featuring MacFarlane’s very own Cheech and Chong. See Ted smoke dope, hang with prostitutes, and brawl with his best pal. Granted, Ted 2’s plot is a logical extension of its foul-mouth protagonist’s experiences in a world that takes his existence for granted. But too many of the jokes are in service to Ted 2’s plot, and most of them do fall flat with the exception of a montage set in a law library. This is especially noticeably when MacFarlane recycles Ted’s kidnapping subplot with Giovanni Ribisi’s creepy Ted stalker, Donny. It’s only when Ted 2 goes off on tangents that MacFarlane breaks free of the constraints of his plot and finds all that is amusing and winning about Ted’s relationship with John. Ted 2 does not bring back Mila Kunis as John’s better half, which works to the sequel’s benefit. Kunis was saddled with a shrewish character whose job it was to teach John how to be responsible. A responsible John is not a fun John, so it’s inevitable that he’s back on the bong in Ted 2. He’s now paired with Amanda Seyfried, whose junior attorney is cut from the same cloth as John. Except she’s as cool and playful as she is smart and dependable. It’s a match made in stoner heaven. MacFarlane actually allows Seyfried to behave badly in Ted 2. She also drives some of the comic mayhem, something that Kunis wasn’t allowed to do in Ted. On the other hand, MacFarlane doesn’t give Morgan Freeman anything to do. So Freeman plays a civil rights attorney with the grace and authority we expect from Freeman. Nor does MacFarlane have a clue what to with his celebrity cameos. Sure, the idea that Ted would break into Tom Brady’s house to obtain a sperm sample from the New England Patriots quarterback is hilarious in theory, but its planned and executed with zero creativity. This, though, is a problem that afflicts much of Ted 2. Now that Ted’s has had his day in court, let’s hope MacFarlane will let Ted get back to what he does best: nothing.
Aired: June 25, 2015
Web site: http://www.legalizeted.com/