Ted. It's filthy, raunchy, disgusting, stupid, smart and mixed all together, it's a gem. It's also a pretty good stand-alone film. In other words, it don't need any sequels or follow-ups or reboots or any rejigger of any sort. But here we sit, and it got a sequel. Hitting theaters last weekend to mixed reviews and an underwhelming box office performance, here's 2015's Ted 2.
It's been a year since Ted (voice of Seth MacFarlane) has married Tami-Lynn (Jessica Barth) and....well, everything isn't all right in the world. In the midst of a seemingly never-ending fight, Ted and Tami decide the best alternative is to have a baby to save their marriage. Other than the obvious issues of Ted being a teddy bear and not being able to...ya know, reproduce, they quickly hit a roadblock in court. A judge rules that Ted is not a human being. Instead, he's a piece of property. Now with the help of his best friend, John (Mark Wahlberg), and a like-minded young lawyer, Sam (Amanda Seyfried), Ted has to prove without a reasonable doubt that he is in fact, a person, a human being, and not just a little kid's toy. Let the road-tripping, weed-smoking shenanigans begin. No one and nothing is safe...
As I mentioned in my first Ted review, MacFarlane can be a pretty divisive guy, whether it be his humor, his directing, his animated shows...basically everything. I think when it comes to pure humor, he has few equals right now. He manages to find that generally pretty perfect of really smart and truly dumb while all keeping it incredibly entertaining. Sure, there have been misfires along the way, but the laughs are almost always there. Well -- and here comes the twist -- they're not there as much anymore. Just because I loved the first movie so much, I wanted to love this unnecessary but hopefully entertaining sequel just as much. I didn't, and it wasn't even close. There are laughs (no doubt about that), but there are just as many and maybe more misfires along the way.
My worry was this sequel would be more Million Ways to Die than the original Ted. Lovely premise, horrific, so not funny execution. 'Million' was one of the worst movies I saw last year to the point I almost walked out. The unfortunate part is Ted 2 falls somewhere in between with some great laughs that get bogged down in running bits and repetitive scenes that don't get laughs and don't have much energy. Case in point; Patrick Warburton returns as Guy, John's co-worker, this time in a relationship with Rick (Star Trek's Michael Dorn). They joke about weird sexual preferences, beat up nerds at Comic Con (over and over again) and genuinely don't provide many laughs, but the script keeps going back to them. Then, he brings it back around with Warburton (The Tick) and Dorn (Worf) dressing up as their past characters. It can be infuriating how equal parts clever and dumb one script can be.
When the movie succeeds and produces genuine, out-loud laughs, is when the focus is on Ted and John and all their stupid, mind-blowing antics. MacFarlane's voice work is -- as usual -- pretty flawless as we see all the different sides of Ted, MacFarlane bouncing among them with ease from scene to scene. Wahlberg too shows off his funny side, often times playing the straight man while Ted gets the bigger laughs. I'd love to see Wahlberg do his thing on camera with no one sitting next to him as the scenes are filmed. This is a great buddy dynamic as we see in their scene where they sing their made-up words to the Law & Order theme song, their efforts to steal Tom Brady's semen (Yeah, just go with it), and their rapid fire dialogue that reflects two friends that go way, Way back. Two great characters, a movie at its strongest. I just wish there was more.
And that's where the script issues seem to come in. There doesn't seem to be much of a script. The first hour is definitely stronger, but things fall apart in the second half. There's no real pointed direction where things are going, just scenes thrown together that kinda have something to do with the ones preceding them. That wouldn't be an issue if there were more laughs, but there simply aren't. Amanda Seyfried seems kinda out of place and quite the forced love interest for Wahlberg's John. At one point, she sings a campfire song in a nice nod to Three Amigos, but it falls short. As does a pot-smoking montage in a law library, too many Breakfast Club comparisons to mention. These scenes just don't play well to the point the theater was almost dead silent. By the time Giovanni Ribisi shows up -- Yeah, Donny is back! -- and starts dancing and being weird, I'd kinda checked out already.
Just like he proved with 'Million Ways,' MacFarlane is someone some very talented people want to work with. On top of all the above-mentioned names, we also get appearances from the always reliable Morgan Freeman, Mad Men's John Slattery, an expanded part for Barth as Tami, less Sam Jones (unfortunately), sinister John Carroll Lynch, a downbeat doctor in Dennis Haysbert, and a hysterical one-scene appearance from Liam Neeson who's got some questions for Ted at the grocery store and Patrick Stewart returning as our smooth voiced narrator.
When I laughed, I LAUGHED. Ted's appearance on the stand at his trial is priceless. A running bit between John and Ted taking awkward pictures of each other is priceless, and their encounter with Patriots QB Tom Brady is a gem. I just wish there had been more of those laughs. Any comedy is going to have its hit and miss laughs, but all you're usually looking for is more hits than misses. This one comes out about even. If you enjoyed the first one, you'll enjoy this one, but this sequel isn't on par unfortunately.
Ted 2 (2015): ** 1/2 /****