What scant charm there was in the premise of Seth MacFarlane’s Ted, a comedy about a boy whose wish for a living teddy bear is granted, surely was exhausted by the end of that film.
The 400-Word Review: Ted 2
By Sean Collier
July 1, 2015
The joke, such as it was, boiled down to two points: first, that the adorable bear was foul-mouthed and inclined towards drug use and mild sexual depravity. Second, that no one was particularly impressed that a living toy was in their midst; it was acknowledged that Ted’s existence was anomalous, but for the most part, people simply treated the stuffed soul as one of the guys.
Ted 2, again directed and co-written by MacFarlane (who also voices Ted), manages to carry neither of those elements from the original. The amusement of the crass ball of fluff has long since evaporated, and the plotline of this sequel — in order to marry and adopt a child, Ted must sue the government for his civil rights — undercuts the only legitimate source of irony the franchise had to work with.
So Ted 2 is left to sink (often) or swim (occasionally) purely on its writing and performances. The less said about the story and structure, the better; those have never been MacFarlane’s strong suits.
Dialogue and setups are what he’s good at, and several sequences are undeniably witty; a few will produce roars of laughter. Unfortunately, MacFarlane lacks consistency when forced to write anything over about 22 minutes in runtime (and many would say his consistency is low on the small screen, as well). His jokes are more likely to miss wide than they are to hit, which produces a curious audience response; those roars will sometimes be directly followed by indifferent silence as a bit whiffs.
Mark Wahlberg returns as John Bennett, the boy who wished for the bear’s sentience; he’s mainly there to embody Boston stereotypes and serve as a straight man for Ted, two roles he’s perfectly suited for. Smaller roles from Morgan Freeman, Liam Neeson, John Slattery and Patrick Warburton hit expected notes well enough; Amanda Seyfried gamely replaces Mila Kunis as John’s token love interest.
So yes, there are laughs, and there are likable people to be found in Ted 2. MacFarlane is nothing if not charming. But the story of this superfluous sequel is so dreadful, and the misses so frequent, that you’ll be laughing (hard) at a bad movie.
My Rating: 5/10
Sean Collier is the Associate Editor of Pittsburgh Magazine and a member of the Broadcast Film Critics Association. Read more from Sean at pittsburghmagazine.com/afterdark