Film Review: Ted 2 (★★★)

ted_two_ver4I think we can all agree that the humor of Seth MacFarlane is not for everyone. Depending on who you are, his jokes on television and in movies can range from hilarious to potentially offensive. Basically, the best barometer for Ted 2 is what you thought about the first one. If Ted struck you as an enjoyable raunchy comedy about a foul mouthed teddy bear come to life, then you’re in for more of the same. If it was a chore, well…you’re also in for more of the same. Personally, I enjoyed Ted a lot, so while Ted 2 isn’t quite as funny, it’s still very amusing and contains a couple of absolutely hilarious lines to boot. I’m mostly a fan of co-writer/director/star MacFarlane’s work, so that formula is on display once again here. MacFarlane’s voice work chemistry with returning co-star Mark Wahlberg is one of the selling points, as is their interactions with newcomer to the franchise Amanda Seyfried. I wouldn’t be surprised at all if there’s a Ted 3 on the horizon, but luckily the series has managed to maintain a solid laugh quotient. The first one had the air of something slightly new and different, which this one does not have, but it’s not a huge letdown. Ted 2 still manages to make you laugh, which is all it’s meant to do. As such, I don’t have a problem giving it my recommendation.

When we last left our heroes, Ted (voice of MacFarlane) and John Bennett (Wahlberg) were getting set to live happily ever after with their significant others. Well, Ted is marrying Tami-Lynn (Jessica Barth), while John’s marriage to Lori (an absent Mila Kunis) has ended in divorce. Ted’s marital bliss is short lived though, and he hopes to save his union by having a child. Unable to produce one naturally, since he is a teddy bear magically come to life (or “life”, considering the plot of this one) and all, he and John go on some adventures trying to acquire sperm. Bigger problems arise when the state of Massachusetts declares Ted property and he sues the state for personhood. They get a young lawyer named Sam Jackson (Seyfried) to take the case, but their up against a hot shot attorney (John Slattery) who’s been given the case in order to assure victory. You see, if Ted loses, a scheme cooked up by previous thorn in the side Donny (Giovanni Ribisi) could spell Ted’s doom. Mostly though, this is an excuse for a lot of raunchy jokes, some of which land, while others don’t. Luckily, by that time, there’s already another joke coming to hopefully tickle your funny bone.

226392-fe3aa14a-13ef-11e5-9f1b-ea0e0a7b6fb6I don’t think anyone is expecting brilliant acting here, but there’s something kind of great about Mark Wahlberg’s stoner type performance. He and Seth MacFarlane, who does manage to give a special effect a lot of personality, manage to up this film. Without them, you’d probably succumb to some of the other actors just going through the motions. Amanda Seyfried is solid, but she’s mostly set up to be the butt of jokes, though sometimes she gets to be an able sparring partner/romantic companion in the making for Wahlberg. Macfarlane has his character center stage more here than last time, leading to Wahlberg being closer to a supporting player. It doesn’t make things better or worse, but it is noticeable. The aforementioned Jessica Barth and Giovanni Ribisi don’t leave much of an impression, while John Slattery is wasted. Other retuning players like Sam J. Jones, Patrick Warburton, and the voice of Patrick Stewart essentially cameo here. Newcomer bit parts are played by the likes of Morgan Freeman, Liam Neeson, John Carroll Lynch, and others, though it’s just a gag or a paycheck for them. The only ones really invested are MacFarlane and Wahlberg.

Though not quite as infectiously fun as Ted, MacFarlane’s writing and directing is is definite step up from the mixed bag that was A Million Ways to Die in the West (which I liked, but seem to be the only one). He and co-writers Alec Sulkin and Wellesley Wild copy the playbook for Ted 2 almost scene for scene from Ted sometimes, but it manages to work. Macfarlane isn’t a director with a ton of style, but he always is game to try something new. What matters most are the jokes, which are plenty funny here. Two highlights for me were on the cleaner side too, if you can believe it. One is a back and forth involving Beetlejuice, while the other parodies a classic scene from Jurassic Park. I laughed out loud.

Quite frankly, Ted 2 is lowbrow humor, but it’s effectively done lowbrow humor. MacFarlane isn’t the next Mel Brooks, but he’s got more talent than I think people realize. If you liked the first one, there’s no reason why you shouldn’t like this one as well. It’s not quite a gut buster, but you’ll leave the theater with a smile on your face. Ted 2 is a worthy sequel to the surprise comedy smash…

Thoughts? Discuss in the comments!