I have nothing but respect for Seth MacFarlane. The man has built a media empire for himself over the last 20 years and has become one of the most important comedic figures of our modern day, having created, written and voiced a menagerie of animated shows including Family Guy, American Dad, The Cleveland Show and others. The man even had time to be one of the best Oscar hosts in recent memory and produce the revamped Cosmos miniseries on Fox. Needless to say, he’s a really smart and busy dude. MacFarlane made his big screen debut in 2012 with Ted, which came out to huge blockbuster success. Unfortunately, his next live action flick, 1,000,000 Ways to Die in the West wasn’t nearly as successful or good so it makes sense that his next big screen outing would be a sequel to his freshman hit. And so now, three years later, we have Ted 2, bringing back the lovable loud-mouthed, pot smoking teddy bear Ted.
Taking place a couple of years after the original Ted, the movie starts with the titular Ted (voiced by Seth MacFarlane) marrying his long time girlfriend Tami Lynn (Jessica Barth). In an attempt to solidify his marriage, Ted decides to adopt a kid, which brings him to the attention of the US government who doesn’t recognize Ted as a human being and strips him of all rights, effectively turning him into propriety. With the help of his best friend John (Mark Wahlberg) whose still coping with his divorce with Lori (played by Mila Kunis in the first film and who didn’t return for this one) and young attorney Samantha (Amanda Seyfried), Ted decides to take the government to court in an attempt to be recognized as a human. At the same time, the villainous Donny (Giovanni Ribisi) is plotting to once again steal Ted in order to have his very own living toy.
A quick word of warning, if you’re someone who is easily offended or can’t stand gross-out humor, then Ted 2 is definitely not the movie for you. Pretty much 40% of the dialog is curse words and the main characters have all sorts of bodily fluids thrown at their faces from sperm to feces. This is toilet humor, pure and simple. That being said, it’s really funny and very well executed toilet humor, at least for the most part. MacFarlane has a knack for making the vulgar entertaining, and can even make it seem a little wholesome. The fact that it’s a talking teddy bear that is at the center of this raunchiness adds to the surrealist edge that lets you constantly know that this is nothing more than a live-action cartoon. It’s Family Guy in real life, but with different characters. The CGI work on Ted is also fantastic; I always believed that there was an actual living teddy bear on screen, even when the movie makes him do outlandish, unbelievable things.
Aside from the jokes, the biggest draw here is the rapport between Wahlberg‘s character and Ted. I would have never thought that Mark Wahlberg could be such a funny guy, but now having seen him in both Ted films, I would go as far as to say he’s much better as a comedian than as a dramatic actor. As for the new addition to the cast, Amanda Seyfried is OK in her role, but most of the comedy related to her character comes from Ted and John reacting to her, not from anything Seyfried does. For example, there are plenty of jokes about Seyfried’s big eyes or about the fact that her character smokes weed. Ultimately, her character felt a little forced in, serving as a romantic interest for Wahlberg which will just make you question why Mila Kunis didn’t return. It’s also a little weird considering the age gap separating both actors, as Wahlberg is clearly playing a character much younger than himself. As for the minor characters, Morgan Freeman barely has any screen time and I felt that there could have been more jokes to be had with him. John Slattery is also wasted as the lawyer arguing against Ted’s case. There are some pretty funny cameos here as well by people like Tom Brady, Jay Leno and one in particular involving Liam Neeson that was one of, if not the funniest part of the movie (stay after the credits for a funny stinger involving him).
My biggest complaint is that the film is too long. By the last 30 minutes, it became clear that all the best jokes had passed and what was left to see was the conclusion to the half-assed secondary plotline that involved the villain from the first movie convincing an executive from Hasbro to steal Ted in an effort to see what exactly makes him alive, reproduce it and sell living teddy bears on the public market. It’s pretty much nonsense and slows down the momentum of the film every time it switches to that side-plot. It feels completely out of place and is only there in order for the film to have a high-stakes climax. That climax does involve a cool fight scene taking place at New York Comic Con that’s good for some laughs, but not worth the time wasted on that story. The ending also tries to grab you emotionally in the way the first film did, but it never felt truly honest in the way the original’s ending was. If anything, it just felt like a tired copy of its predecessor. Even the way Ted’s court case was resolved felt like an afterthought.
When it comes down to it, Ted 2 is really nothing more than a series of dirty jokes, some incredibly funny and some not at all, but the movie throws so many at you that even if one doesn’t hit, a funnier one will come soon enough. The plot only exists as a vehicle to get from joke to joke, and that’s really only a problem when it decides to take itself seriously in the last act. The chemistry between Wahlberg and the CGI bear is great and all the celebrity cameos are well done. It’s not as good as the original and lacks the emotionality that made it so special, but Ted 2 is a great way to spend two hours, as long as you’re in the mood to laugh.
Final Grade: 7/10