MOVIE REVIEW: ‘Ted 2’ Is The First Major Misfire Of Summer 2015

ted-2-review

Film: Ted 2
Starring: Mark Wahlberg, Seth MacFarlane
Directed By: Seth MacFarlane

Having established a new hero in the world of profane comedy with his initial outing, Seth MacFarlane has proven with Ted 2 what A Million Ways To Die In The West alluded to over a year ago: America’s turn of the millennium funnyman has lost his charm. To make matters worse, he’s pulling Mark Wahlberg, Amanda Seyfried, John Slattery, and Morgan Freeman down with him.

Taking place one year, one marriage, and one divorce after we last said goodbye, Ted 2 reintroduces the characters you loved from the first film, sans Mila Kunis. It seems Mark Wahlberg’s character realized they were simply not meant to be, and that is all the explanation a movie like this needs to introduce a new love interest (Amanda Seyfried) somewhere near the end of the first act. This basically means everything the characters went through in the first film was utterly pointless, but it soon becomes apparent that may be a recurring theme in this modern comedy ‘franchise.’

Ted and Tammy Lynn are still married, but the magic of being newlyweds has long worn off. They decide the only way to guarantee their marriage doesn’t fail is to have a child, but obviously that is impossible given Ted’s lack of sex organs, so they decide to adopt. That is, until the government decides Ted is technically property, and therefore not guaranteed the same rights as people.

Upset and worried what unfortunate things might happen now that Ted has been stripped of his rights, the gang decides to launch a civil rights campaign to prove MacFarlane’s naughty talking bear is, in fact, human. It seems big in theory, but in execution it all passes with little to no dramatic arc whatsoever.

To be fair, I don’t think MacFarlane cares if you give a crap about what is happening in the story as long as you are laughing, or at least that is what I gather from the constant onslaught of non-sequiturs and punch-up gags that are littered throughout the film. The biggest laughs come from jokes added late in post-production, with references to everything from the events in Ferguson, Missouri to the recent ‘Deflategate’ scandal involving Patriots quarterback Tom Brady. It’s all very topical and very much like what you would expect from an episode of MacFarlane’s original million-dollar idea, Family Guy.

And therein lies the problem. This movie is so akin to MacFarlane’s television work that most of the gags are largely indistinguishable from the antics of Peter, Quagmire, Joe, and Cleveland that most could see for free every Sunday night from the comfort of their own home. The first Ted film felt like a silly and original idea when it was announced, but it was an original idea nonetheless. People flocked to the film and fell in love with the characters because MacFarlane found a way to offer something no other modern film had attempted, let alone been able to pull off. Everyone knew it would be funny, but not many expected to walk away actually caring about what happened to the talking bear who loves to joke about ejaculate, but MacFarlane found a way to make that happen. Ted 2, unfortunately, feels more like a collection of gags that didn’t work anywhere else than another fresh idea.

To their credit, the cast do their best to work with the material they’ve been given, and I assume there was a lot of improv worked into the final cut as well. Wahlberg, pushing his silliness to a new extreme, doesn’t have nearly as many quippy remarks or sentimental counterweights as before. His character feels as directionless as ever, and you get the idea MacFarlane wants his recent divorce to explain this, but it never really comes across in a convincing manner. Seyfried, however, brings a lot of heat as the stoner attorney brought on to save the day. Her comedy efforts have been rare in recent years, but here she proves she still has the innate comedy skills many first fell for in Mean Girls.

There are several smaller appearances as well, which run the gamut from cute and funny to downright nauseating. The better of the bunch goes to Morgan Freeman and John Slattery who, without having much to do, make a lasting impression on the audience. Liam Neeson, on the other hand, has an early appearance so embarrassingly bad you might wonder if his poor performance in Taken 3 was actually the start of a dark era for the prolific actor.

I wanted to like Ted 2 so much. I really, really did. The first film was an unexpected surprise that left me wanting more, but halfway through Ted 2 I wanted nothing more than for the credits to roll. The movie is downright exhausting in its efforts to pry a dirty laugh out of every opportunity. You’re pummeled with half-assed jokes and pop culture references until you’re too dizzy to realize nearly two hours have passed and maybe twenty minutes of story has been told. It’s pointless, thoughtless, and seemingly produced for no reason other than to pump more money out of MacFarlane’s quickly aging core audience.

So I guess this is where we go our separate ways, thunder buddies. It was fun until it wasn’t, and then it was a bore.

GRADE: D

Review written by James Shotwell

James Shotwell

James Shotwell is the founder of Under The Gun Review. He loves writing about music and movies almost as much as he loves his two fat cats. He's also the co-founder of Antique Records and the Marketing Coordinator for Haulix. You should probably follow him on Twitter.

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