Movie Review: Ted 2
By Ben Gruchow
July 6, 2015
It takes some time to pinpoint where Ted 2 starts to go wrong, and it takes more time than it’s really worth to hazard out an ethic as to why this moment works and the next one doesn’t. To make things simple, we can content ourselves with observing that Ted 2 goes wrong in ways that make it the lesser of the movies in the franchise (and by far the lesser of the two R-rated comedies playing in theaters right now), and that it goes from problematic to actively bad at precisely the point when it needs to engender goodwill the most.
The movie starts with promise; during an opening-credits dance number, choreographed by Rob Ashford with a considerable amount of precision and skill, I realized a couple of things: one, director Seth MacFarlane’s sporadic attempts to convey scope and musicality are far more successful in live action than they are in primetime animation; two, the movie’s cinematography is pretty fantastic. The ultra-wide 2.35:1 aspect ratio is patently unnecessary - there’s hardly a composition that wouldn’t fit better in a 1.85:1 frame, apart from that opening dance number - but you can lay that claim at the feet of almost any tentpole. Regardless of aspect ratio, though, Ted 2 is visually striking in a sense that goes way above and beyond the call of duty for this kind of studio tentpole. It’s not groundbreaking, but you take your small victories where you can get them in a film by the guy responsible for Peter Griffin.
It’s probably a good thing that the visuals of the movie don’t do anything more laudatory, lest I have a hernia over the contrast between form and content on display. That opening really is the best part of the film, and it isn’t long before things start to unravel. Consistency of tone is the first thing to falter. Consider the big moment that sets the movie’s main plot in motion, when Ted and girlfriend Tami-Lynn decide to have a baby. This scene is played more or less straight. In the next scene, it’s discovered that a character’s laptop is stocked with a dizzying array of adult material. It must be purged…but no, not through deletion. The data can be recovered. We cut to the characters smashing the laptop in an alley. Still not good enough, because the circuit boards can be re-constituted. We cut to the same characters in scuba gear, sinking the laptop to the bottom of the sea.
One of these sequences belongs in a slapstick farce, and one of them does not, and no attempt is made to reconcile the two self-contained realities within these scenes. This is an issue that grows and grows over the course of Ted 2. I may be a big grouch for requesting tonal consistency from my raunchy summer comedy, but you know what? If you want to see it accomplished without sacrificing laughs or story, Spy is still knocking around theaters.