Movie review: ‘Ted 2,’ like its hero’s midsection, is overstuffed
You can almost hear Seth MacFarlane trying to grow as a filmmaker during “Ted 2” — and not just because of the almost uncomfortable periods of audience silence that greeted sections of the sequel.
In their efforts to avoid making the same movie twice, writer-director MacFarlane and returning co-writers Alec Sulkin and Wellesley Wild have wisely thrown out the second-time-around blueprint of amping up the outrageousness. Because, honestly, once you’ve seen a living teddy bear drink beer, smoke weed, snort coke and offend pretty much everyone within earshot, the whole thing becomes pretty hard to top.
Instead, they’ve given the sequel a timely message, plenty of heart and the most elaborate, classy, old-school Hollywood dance number to grace the screen in years.
They’ve also given it a running joke about how wherever you are on the Internet, you’re always only two clicks away from seeing a black penis. So, you know, it’s not exactly “Masterpiece Theatre.”
“Ted 2” kicks off with the wedding of Ted (once again voiced by MacFarlane) and his White-Trash Barbie, Tami-Lynn (Jessica Barth). It’s been six months since John (Mark Wahlberg), Ted’s Thunder Buddy for life, divorced Lori (Mila Kunis), and John still hasn’t recovered.
Cut to a year later, and Ted and Tami-Lynn are yelling at each other and breaking things in their dumpy apartment. Their latest argument is about her buying pricey clothes for her job at the grocery store. But Tami-Lynn has ambition. After all, as she says, she’s “just trying to climb the corporate fence.”
Figuring that the best way to fix a doomed marriage is to bring a baby into it, Ted and Tami-Lynn first seek a sperm donor, then turn to adoption. But a state official not only derails their dream, he declares Ted is property, not a person. Because of this, Ted is fired from his cashier job, his bank account and credit card are closed, and his marriage is annulled.
So John and Ted set out to file a civil rights lawsuit. And in case the topicality of Ted’s fighting for human rights is too subtle, he compares his struggles to those of gays and lesbians — albeit by throwing in a couple of homophobic slurs along the way.
The duo eventually connect with a young attorney (Amanda Seyfried) whose name — Samantha L. Jackson, which is kind of like Samuel L. Jackson, but not really — is nowhere near as funny as everyone involved seems to think.
That’s a recurring problem in “Ted 2.”
The original was alarmingly fun and filled with the sort of uncontrollable laughter that made you hate yourself in the morning. This time around, though, you’ll be more likely to smile or chuckle in acknowledgment than lose yourself in the hysterics.
At one point, Ted is concerned by the meticulous way John organizes his porn downloads. It’s a funny bit, but who downloads porn anymore? Scenes from “The Breakfast Club” and “Planes, Trains and Automobiles” are re-created just because. And a trip to an improv show where John and Ted offer up depressing suggestions practically begs someone to scream, “Too soon!”
Despite aiming for something more, “Ted 2” falls into the sequel trap of needlessly shoehorning in many of the original’s characters, with diminishing returns. Yes, we get the most perfect sight gag you could ever want for co-star Patrick Warburton — at least for the 0.1 percent of you who’ll get it. But we’re also stuck with a nutso scheme involving the return of the psychotic Ted-napper Donny (Giovanni Ribisi) and an unscrupulous Hasbro executive (John Carroll Lynch) that goes nowhere.
“Ted 2” gets plenty of things right. It makes better use of its cameos than “Entourage” and better use of John Williams’ “Jurassic Park” theme than “Jurassic World.” And the chemistry between Ted and John will always be sweetly, stupidly entertaining.
Once again, Wahlberg proves he’s game for anything, and his dedication to the silliness is never less than impressive, even if his John seems dumber this time. (Maybe it’s all the weed.)
And despite his filthiness, Ted will never be less than lovable, even if MacFarlane and his team aren’t quite sure what to do with him.
“Ted 2” is part buddy comedy, part road trip, part courtroom drama and part goofy action spectacle set at New York’s Comic Con. But none of the genres is given the time to be sufficiently, satisfyingly explored, despite the movie’s way-too-long 115-minute running time.
As a result, “Ted 2,” like its hero’s midsection, is just plain overstuffed.
Review: “Ted 2,” 115 minutes. Rated R for crude and sexual content, pervasive language, and some drug use. Grade: B-.