Newlywed couple Ted and Tami-Lynn want to have a baby, but in order to qualify to be a parent, Ted will have to prove he’s a person in a court of law.
‘Ted’ was crass, offensive and broad in its humour, but it was also wildly funny and it retained an element of charm about the unhealthy and unusual relationship between a man and the talking teddy bear he grew up with. In the obligatory sequel, Seth MacFarlane goes crasser and more offensive, but he mostly forgets the charm and the humour that made the original tick. Macfarlane’s style has always been to through as much at the screen as he can and hope some of it sticks, and the approach doesn’t differ here, but the problem is that most of it doesn’t work.
The film picks up a year or so later after the events of the first film at Ted’s wedding to Tami-Lynn (Jessica Barth). John (Mark Wahlberg) has split up with the character played by Mila Kunis in the first film, and Ted’s marriage is going down the tubes until he comes across the plan to have a baby to solidify his relationship. This leads to some funny slapstick humour at a fertility clinic, before driving to the crux of the film’s plot as Ted and Tami-Lynn’s application to adopt a child raises some red flags around whether Ted can be considered a person or not. This prompts Ted, with the help of John, to head to court to fight his case, bringing the two into contact with young attorney Sam L. Jackson (this will come into play in the film’s most amusing sequence), played with innocent charm by Amanda Seyfried. Alongside this, Donny (Giovanni Ribisi), the creep from the first film, now works at Hasbro and has a plan to kidnap Ted and use him to make lots of money for the company. The story does present some opportunities, but MacFarlane isn’t smart or subtle enough to truly engage with the potential that a civil rights case could bring for satire.
The film does have its moments, with a clever pop culture discussion with Seyfried’s attorney and MacFarlane’s lack of care for who he offends leading to some amusing results, but overall most of the jokes fail to land. The musical choices throughout are strong, with one particular cue at a countryside farm well matched in particular. The kidnapping subplot never really takes off, although seeing John Carroll Lynch as a villainous CEO just made me wish we saw this underrated character actor in villainous roles more frequently. There are numerous roles and cameos for the likes of Morgan Freeman, John Slattery and Liam Neeson, but none of them are given much to work with, with Neeson’s cameo in particular feeling particularly limp. For reasons known only to himself, MacFarlane has also inserted an unfunny, obnoxious couple (Patrick Warburton & Michael Dorn), whose sole purpose seems to be turning up to spout gay stereotypes or aggressively attack nerds at a comic-con convention. Completely unnecessary doesn’t cover it.
Overall, ‘Ted 2’ is a weaker effort than its predecessor, firing off an increasing number of jokes as the success rate decreases. Let’s hope this premise isn’t stretched any further.
Directed By: Seth MacFarlane
Starring: Mark Wahlberg, Seth MacFarlane, Amanda Seyfried, Morgan Freeman, John Slattery, Giovanni Ribisi, John Carroll Lynch, Ron Canada, Jessica Barth and Sam J. Jones