Sequel to the movie about a crude, dope-smoking teddy bear just a wearying retread of the 2012 hit, writes Jay Stone
Starring: Mark Wahlberg, Seth MacFarlane, Amanda Seyfried
Directed by: Seth MacFarlane
Running time: 115 minutes
Rating: 2 stars out of 5
By Jay Stone
The devolution of the Ted franchise — from the crude humour of the 2012 original to the crude non-humour of Ted 2 — is an interesting study in the metrics of the movie sequel. Good thing, too, because you need something to occupy your mind during the 115 minutes of ennui and misfires that comprise the film.
Ted was a surprising and random entrée into the frat-boy mind of Seth MacFarlane, who co-wrote and directed it and provided the voice of Ted, a teddy bear who comes to life as a miniature representative of the modern young man. He was a homophobic dope-smoking slacker, the best friend of underachieving John Bennett (Mark Wahlberg) with whom he would sit on the couch, watching TV, puffing on a bong and trading insults.
Theirs was a friendship familiar from many movies about groups of young men who are content to wallow in intoxicated immaturity. It was funny because Ted is, like, a teddy bear, although by the end of Ted, the humorous shock of hearing an adorable children’s toy saying the f-word was wearing kind of thin. Fortunately Ted was also, in its juvenile way, a sweet story about friendship and growing up, not that anyone did any.
“America doesn’t give a shit about anything,” Ted says at the beginning … and that stands as an epigraph for the entire movie. Ted 2 isn’t any good, but people will go to see it because, like, a children’s toy says the f-word.
The film was a hit, and Hollywood doesn’t walk away from hits. Thus Ted 2, which is less of the same: sex, drugs and the incongruity of a plush toy that smokes weed. “America doesn’t give a shit about anything,” Ted says at the beginning — the movie begins with Ted getting married, an enterprise that seems doomed for several reasons, including the fact that the bear has no sexual organs — and that stands as an epigraph for the entire movie. Ted 2 isn’t any good, but people will go to see it because, like, a children’s toy says the f-word.
The story is that Ted and his wife Tami-Lynn (Jessica Barth) want to adopt a child, natural birth being unlikely given Ted’s condition. However, the attempt draws Ted to the authorities, who declare that he’s not even a person, but property. This development is played as both a parody of the courtroom drama — “we’ll take it all the way to Judge Judy,” John vows — and an analogue of the fight over slavery. Much of the movie is taken up with a trial in which the Dred Scott decision is cited, as if Ted 2 has lessons about humanity.
The case is handled by a lawyer named Sam L. Jackson (Amanda Seyfried), one of several nods to celebrity and pop culture that are the hallmarks of a screenplay in trouble. A few famous faces march through Ted 2, and the climax takes place at the Comic-Con convention in New York City, which perfectly aligns with the movie’s target audience: if you can’t be clever, throw in Star Wars, Star Trek and movie stars, see what sticks. In one running gag, Seyfried is compared to the pop-eyed Gollum character from Lord of the Rings, a routine that proves only that Seyfried is a good sport.
Indeed, Ted 2 is festooned with a wearying series of half-written jokes; for instance, because John has a lot of porn on his computer, he and Ted smash his laptop and then don scuba outfits to bury the pieces at sea. They crash a car into a barn and find a rifle inside the building, solely so Ted can accidentally fire it. Sam has a bong in the shape of an erect penis so John and Ted can be shocked by the idea of putting it into their mouths.
A preview audience this week liked it all, but I suspect the laughter came mostly because it’s funny to see a teddy bear saying the f-word. And as long as that’s a knee-slapper, we can expect to hear a lot more from Ted.
– 30 –