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Ted 2 – Movie Review

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Ted 2 – Movie Review

Rating: B- (Okay)

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Even when Seth MacFarlane revels in crude and shocking humour, some glimmer of heart will sneak past the feces references. The first Ted showcased a bit of this during the climax and its sequel shows even more of the cartoonist’s softer side. The jokes are, yet again, hit-or-miss as MacFarlane wants to shock the audience to offensive levels and almost two hours is way too long to devote to what should be a fairly simple story. However, there’s something to admire in the way he treats the material with an almost Capra-esque sensibility. There are even scenes that are quite emotional and the whole project feels like another Seth MacFarlane just wanting to break out and doing something not seeped in comedy aimed at high schoolers.

Most of Ted 2 revolves around the titular pot-smoking bear trying to be recognised as a person by the law and it’s a credit to MacFarlane that he’s a believable presence in the scenes, thus strengthening his cause. Part of it might be his adorable and cuddly design, but Ted is a likeable lead and his relationship with Mark Wahlberg’s John is genuinely sweet and touching. In many ways, MacFarlane might care more about the characters in Ted than he does the Griffins and other Quahog residents on Family Guy. When the film becomes dramatic at points, it’s seamless and one can seen the talented filmmaker behind the scatological jokes. It wouldn’t be surprising to find out he watches a lot of Turner Classic Movies, further proven by a fantastic opening title sequence that looks like a musical number straight out of Broadway Melody of 1936.

The comedy works in some moments, while falling flat in others. Some of the more successful bits include John and Ted’s complete ignorance of F. Scott Fitzgerald’s body of work, an inspired cameo from a famous tough guy in a grocery store and a scene in an improv club that is one of the rare times MacFarlane’s shock humour is actually (albeit, horrifically) funny. There are multiple scenes that exist purely for the purpose of a joke and Ted 2 even utilises the cutaway gag that Family Guy is infamous for using every three minutes. MacFarlane and his co-writers Alec Sulkin and Wellesley Wild use a similar approach to crafting the screenplay as they do on the weekly Fox animated series by choosing random sketch scenes over character development. This is especially evident by the runtime. There are stretches where the almost two hour length becomes obvious and there are multiple scenes that could have been cut. One scene exists entirely for the purpose of inserting weed and penis jokes that are repeated over and over again. There is a montage that mostly parodies The Breakfast Club and is devoid of laughs. Surprisingly for a comedy, the most effective scenes are ones where Ted fights for his civil rights in court and when things take a really emotional turn. The animators deserve a lot of credit for giving Ted just the right sad and disappointed expression during pivotal scenes.

The plot also gets ridiculously and unnecessarily convoluted. The return of Giovanni Ribisi’s creepy stalker Donny adds very little and seems to happen, purely so the story can find its way to the New York Comic-Con. The screenplay jumps through a lot of hoops to hit some contrived turns in the plot, instead of going a more simple route in order to make the runtime more manageable. Amanda Seyfried becoming John’s love interest adds very little to the plot, which only makes the way the film writes off Mila Kunis’s Lori from Ted that much more disappointing. The unexpected way MacFarlane wrote her character in the first film was such a pleasant surprise and having them divorce before the events of the sequel makes one of the major conflicts there rendered pointless.

Ted 2 offers more of the same, but underneath the gags about semen and masturbation, there’s a sweet layer that elevates the material. This is further shown with Walter Murphy’s score, which instantly brings a smile to one’s face with its heartwarming melody. Even a sweet tune sung by Amanda Seyfried manages to work thanks to Seth MacFarlane’s impressive songwriting abilities. One almost wishes MacFarlane would try his hand at a straight drama, because he has the talent to make it work. The first film was a cute one-joke novelty and the sequel doesn’t change that, though it does become very bloated. Within the elements that do work, there’s a filmmaker with a Frank Capra-like quality begging to get out, not something one would expect to describe the creator of Family Guy. It shows that Seth MacFarlane is slowly maturing away from Quahog, regardless of the unevenness of Ted 2.

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Review By: Stefan Ellison

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