Seth MacFarlane and his foul-mouth furball strike again
Starring Mark Wahlberg & Amanda Seyfried
Directed by Seth MacFarlane
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.
How 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.
Characters 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