When a talking teddy bear wants to have a baby, who has the right to stop him?
The first Ted film was highly enjoyable, a truly crass comedy for adults that lived up to the concept and notoriety Seth Macfarlane had accumulated through his highly successful Family Guy series. Many of the cast from Family Guy appeared including Mila Kunis and Patrick Warburton as well as Macfarlane himself voicing the lead. For the sequel though there was trepidation from myself, Mila Kunis would not star and Macfarlane gave us one of the worst films of 2014 in A Million Ways to Die In The West. Comedy sequels often find it hard to emulate the originality and enjoyment of the original, having to pay service to existing fans while trying to discover new laughs and deliver character development. And so the stage was set for Ted 2 to buck the trend or crash and burn.
Leading on from the first film, we have Ted married to his cashier co-worker Tami-Lynn while John (Mark Wahlberg) recovers from a divorce with Lori. Everything goes awry however when Ted and Tami-Lynn attempt to have a child, alerting authorities to Ted’s legal status and subsequently stripping him of his humanity and labelling him property. Step in Amanda Seyfried’s Samantha Jackson, a fresh faced lawyer looking for justice and civil liberties. Hijinx ensue as Ted fights for his rights and John looks to love again. To be brutally honest, the plot doesn’t matter too much, you could have made this a road movie, a revenge story, a frat film or any number of any other comedy classics and just shoehorned the comedic capers into it and it would have been just as satisfying. Obviously the question of Ted’s legal status is an easy conversation, but considering it was barely touched upon or entirely ignored to fit the story in the first film it seems a little forced here. Scenes in a sperm bank, farm, grocers or the house of a special cameo could have been slotted in anywhere to the same comedic results.
What really matters here is the jokes, and there is some amazing one liners and situational set ups. Playing from the characters laid out in the first film, Macfarlane, alongside writing team Alec Sulkin and Wellesley Wild, has been able to deliver stronger jokes here. Whether dissecting pop culture in relation to Bill Cosby or Kim Kardashian, no punches are pulled. The films shock value is endearing when others shy away or miss the mark. While occasionally you feel you are about to get a Family Guy-esque cut away, Ted 2 delivers Macfarlane’s brand of devilish humour with just enough physical comedy for mainstream audiences to keep grinning. The opening credits of the film are perhaps the closest reference to Macfarlane’s TV career, but are easily the best scene in the movie, the time taken to set up the film with a classic dance number got me excited for the film, breaking the ice where other comedies struggle to do.
Wahlberg and Macfarlane are matched in the laughs by Seyfried who has shown her acting chops in a variety of roles in the past decade but returns to comedy here after her breakout performance in 2004’s Mean Girls. Seyfried plays an intelligent stoner lawyer with a barely passable grasp on pop culture and shines, illuminating the screen and easily providing some chemistry with Wahlberg that Mila Kunis didn’t entirely fulfill in the first film. Giovanni Ribisi’s return is forgettable and disappointing, his run as the villain not as satisfying as what could have been with a cameo early on in the film that hinted at more that we eventually got. Patrick Warburton and Michael Dorn are gut busting, their appearance on screen had me in stitches as they were prepared to reference previous work. Powerhouse cameos also come and go, some better than others but all enjoyable in their own way.
Ted 2 takes what was built in the first film and progresses the comedy if not the storytelling. It will again be interesting to see how Macfarlane’s work holds up in time as he relies on so many pop culture references, but watched now, it hits home hard. Whilst I don’t feel i need a Ted 3, I feel like we could see it and i would be confident in its success after Ted 2 put the wheels back on the Macfarlane comedy train. If you liked the first Ted you will like this film, its as simple as that, more of the same. If you like Jurassic Park, then there is at least one joke in here for you as well.