Ted 2 is a film that holds absolutely no surprises.
Whoever you are, it’s exactly the film that you think it’s going to be. Trailer had you in stitches? You’ll be in heaven with Ted 2. It’s as funny as you think.
Did you hear the announcement that 2012’s first film was getting a sequel and cringe for the state of humanity? Skip it. It’s as bad as you think.
It’s almost refreshing to see a film that’s this easy to read for audiences.
The plot sees the sweary bear from the first film agreeing to adopt a child in an attempt to fix his ailing marriage. However, when he enters the system in search of a child, issues about Ted’s status of existence crop up: is he a real person, or just a piece property?
Enter Amanda Seyfried’s lawyer, who strives to help Ted prove that he’s a real boy… er, bear. And, with Mark Wahlberg’s John separated from the first film’s Lori (Mila Kunis, absent here), he’s in need of a new love interest. Can you guess what happens next?
Seth MacFarlane is a frustrating figure. His voice work is always phenomenal, he’s a competent director, and he can be a very, very funny man… he just so often chooses not to be.
The humour, unsurprisingly, is very much in the Family Guy mould. Unfortunately, that’s the latter-day Family Guy, when crudity and offense for the sake of offense became the show’s ethos and the genuinely funny satire of America, pop culture and family life was left behind, or at best, lost among the torrents of inappropriate shock tactics.
Ted 2 does boast a few good moments, though. A skit with the guys throwing out inappropriate suggestions at an improv night balances humour with being risqué to a degree that works, and there’s a great pastiche of the Disney cliché of woodland creatures turning up to listen when a character begins singing a sickly-sweet song, in which the benefits of just being silly and funny without going for shocks are clear to see.
There are a few fun cameos, too (Liam Neeson fans are advised to stick around for the post-credit sequence), and the film’s climax at Comic Con allows for plenty of blink-and-you’ll-miss-them visual references, as well as the joy of having Michael Dorn and Patrick Warburton turn up in character as Worf and The Tick respectively.
But for the most part, it’s a depressingly predictable affair. When Ted and John arrive at a sperm donation clinic you just KNOW somebody is getting covered in spunk.
Recurring jokes that might have had merit are twisted to involve, say, issues of race, seemingly for the hell of it, which renders them in poor taste. At times it feels like they’ve gone out of their way to make even the potentially funny material inert.
A Jurassic Park spoof begins as a fun reference, but goes on too long, and by the time Ted quotes a line from that film – which makes precisely ZERO sense in the context of this scene or the spoof – you’d wish they hadn’t bothered at all. It becomes tiring, even more so because the potential is there.
MacFarlane needs somebody to rein him and his writers in to help streamline proceedings. There are also perhaps too many American references, which will likely leave international audiences and all but the most ardent of US. pop-culture vultures baffled. The run-time, too, is bloated.
On the whole, it just feels less endearing than the first film. There seem to be fewer moments of ‘bro-dom’ between Ted and John (although the pair making up lyrics to the Law & Order theme is a highlight), and the plot’s focus on what constitutes a life lends the film a more serious tone.
In fact, a scene mid-way through, in which Seyfried’s lawyer presents her opening statement in defence of Ted is genuinely fantastic. It’s well written, well delivered and it has emotional impact. Just what the hell is it doing in Ted 2?! Tonally, moments of genuine drama like that sit ill-at ease with the rest of proceedings.
But, for fans of MacFarlane, Ted 2 will tick all the right boxes, while the people who long-ago swore off his antics will already know to steer well clear anyway.
Released in UK cinemas on Wednesday 7 July 2015.
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