Tag Archives: Amanda Seyfried

Trashy Teddy

Seth MacFarlane and his foul-mouth furball strike again

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Ted 2

Starring Mark Wahlberg & Amanda Seyfried

Directed by Seth MacFarlane

R

The bawdy little talking furball is back. Writer-director Seth MacFarlane’s raunchy teddy bear returns in all his crass, computer-generated comedic glory for another round of surrealist stoner silliness with his Bostonian best friend, John (Mark Wahlberg), in this sequel to the $550-million-grossing 2012 hit.

It begins, as many movies do, with a wedding, as Ted (voiced by MacFarlane) ties the knot with his gum-smacking bride, Tami-Lynn (Jessica Barth). Soon, however, there’s trouble in paradise: Ted and Tami-Lynn discover they can’t have a baby, for a couple of reasons—including that Ted, a teddy bear, lacks the necessary anatomical equipment. And trying to adopt creates another problem, which comes to loom large: The legal question of whether Ted is a person or a piece of property.

5708_FP2_00111RV2.jpg_cmykHow you feel about the humor in Ted 2 will likely align with how you feel in general about the work of MacFarlane, whose TV show Family Guy established and enshrined him as a golden boy of rollicking, ribald politically incorrect hilarity. For some, he’s a brilliant, envelope-pushing social satirist. Others lean to the opposite, more “offended” side of the critical spectrum, noting his penchant for crude jokes, scatological humor and the sharp, scathing edges on the blades of his irreverent, “insensitive” lampoonery.

There’s plenty of all of that, however you feel about it, in Ted 2, from the dazzling Busby Berkeley-inspired musical opening credits sequence to the almost nonstop parade of bawdy jokes, celebrity cameos and gurgling bong hits that follow.

I won’t say it’s not funny, and some of it is flat-out hilarious. MacFarlane runs his characters (which include Amanda Seyfried as a newbie attorney who takes on Ted’s “personhood” case) through a gamut of R-rated punch lines and crazily comical setups. A Liam Neeson walk-on, as a grocery-store customer overly concerned about the age-appropriateness of his breakfast cereal, is a total hoot. (Stay for all the credits for the full payoff.) Jay Leno gamely goes along with a joke about gay sex.

5708_AC0003_COMP_V013_1006R.JPG_cmykCharacters come to expect the same (obscene) search suggestion for any Google query. Ted’s bachelor party—remember, he’s a bear—features a unique kind of porn. There a profanely inspired moment of speculative banter about what the F. in author F. Scott Fitzgerald’s name really stands for.

But some things seem unnecessarily drawn-out and repetitive, with gags and ploys from the first movie simply recycled or repeated—like a subplot with the creepy stalker Donny (Giovanni Ribisi), who wants to slice into Ted to see what makes him tick. At one point, John yells “Déjà vu!” I hear you, sir!

The Kardashians, rocker Steven Tyler and Harrison Ford all but assuredly won’t like the jokes made at their expense, but quarterback Tom Brady was clearly aboard for his scene, in which Ted and John infiltrate his bedroom for an ill-fated artificial-insemination scheme.

If some of that sounds like the bottom of comedy barrel, perhaps you’ll be a bit more uplifted by Ted 2’s underlying civics lesson about gay rights, the struggle of blacks in America and the inherent dignity of all living things.

Who says tubby, trash-talking teddy bears are all huff, puff and fluff?

—Neil Pond, Parade Magazine

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Young at Heart

Bittersweet Ben Stiller comedy explores growing up, growing older

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While We’re Young

Starring Ben Stiller, Naomi Watts, Adam Driver and Amanda Seyfried

Directed by Noah Baumbach

R

The search for the fountain of youth, both literally and figuratively, has captivated imaginations for centuries. Who hasn’t dreamed of turning back the hands of time?

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Naomi Watts & Ben Stiller

In the latest movie comedy from indie-favorite writer-director Noah Baumbach, Ben Stiller and Naomi Watts play Josh and Cornelia, a childless New York husband and wife in their forties who find themselves out of the loop with their friends, whose lives now revolve around new babies and toddlers. But they’re suddenly rejuvenated—as if spritzed by the mythical fountain—when they intersect with a couple of twenty-something hipsters, Jamie and Darby, played by Adam Driver (from the HBO series Girls) and Amanda Seyfried, who remind them of all the things they used to be.

At Jamie and Darby’s intoxicatingly funky digs, Josh and Cornelia swoon over their new friends’ retro-iffic love of old vinyl records, classic board games, VHS tapes, vintage fashion and manual typewriters. “It’s like…everything we once threw out,” Cornelia gushes. “But it looks so good they way they have it!”

Jamie, it turns out, is also a documentary filmmaker, like Josh—although Josh has been struggling with one movie for the past seven years, unable to complete it. Jamie strokes Josh’s frail, needy ego; Josh falls under the spell of Jamie’s freewheeling, youthful energy—and, at least for a while, how everything seems to work out so easily for him.

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Amanda Seyfried

When Josh and Jamie collaborate on a new project, and Cornelia’s father (Charles Grodin)—an esteemed documentary filmmaker himself—gets involved, things get complicated. The couples’ relationships begin to unravel; jealousies and suspicions arise. Is Jamie using Josh for his connection to his famous father-in-law? Is Josh just being neurotic and resentful? When is a kiss more a kiss, a “meeting” more than a meeting? What do Jamie and Cornelia see in Josh and Darby that they can’t find in themselves?

Director Baumbach, whose critically acclaimed films include Frances Ha and The Squid and the Whale, has a very Woody Allen-ish way with his New York settings, characters and situations, coaxing out humor in the way Jamie and Cornelia are attracted to the lifestyles of their new friends—and the way their “old” friends react to them. Josh begins sporting a fedora and sockless dress shoes, like Jamie; Cornelia takes up hip-hop dance classes with Darby.

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Josh (Ben Stiller) begins dressing like his new friend Jamie (Adam Driver).

“We’re worried about you,” their friend Fletcher (Adam Horovitz, of the ’80s rap trio the Beastie Boys) tells them. “You’re an old man in a hat.”

The soundtrack’s mix of tunes from David Bowie, Paul McCartney and Wings, Vivaldi, Danny Kaye, the Psychedelic Furs and A Tribe Called Quest adds to the movie’s feel of a crisscrossing mash-up of generations.

In the second half, the plot strains to connect Josh’s principles about “truth” in documentary films to a major point about Jamie’s approach to moviemaking that doesn’t seem to be a such a big deal to anyone else, even in the big climatic showdown to which everything builds. The movie’s much better when it sticks to the “smaller” human comedy of people dealing with the foibles of growing up and growing older, finding out who they are and what they want out of life, and learning that every age—and every stage—has its joys as well as its jolts.

—Neil Pond, Parade Magazine

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Sparks of Love

Roundup features star-studded movies based on romance novels

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Nicholas Sparks Limited Edition DVD Collection

DVD $69.97 (Warner Bros. Home Entertainment)

Hey, lovebirds, here’s something to coo about: Seven star-studded movies based on the romance novels of Nicholas Sparks are now for the first time available together in this super-snuggly gift set. Sparks, if you don’t know, is the maestro of mushiness whose 17 books have been published in 50 languages and sold some 90 million copies worldwide—and turned into these flicks: Safe Haven (2013) with Julianne Hough; The Lucky One (2012) with Zac Efron; Dear John (2010) with Channing Tatum and Amanda Seyfried; Nights in Rodanthe (2008) with Richard Gere and Diane Lane; Message in a Bottle (1999) with Kevin Costner; A Walk to Remember (2002) with Mandy Moore; and The Notebook (2004) with Ryan Gosling and Rachel McAdams. Extras include a postcard set with images from each flick.

—Neil Pond, American Profile Magazine

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