With Mark Wahlberg, Seth MacFarlane, Amanda Seyfried, Jessica Barth, Giovanni Ribisi. Written Seth MacFarlane & Alec Sulkin & Wellesley Wild. Directed by Seth MacFarlane. Rated R for crude and sexual content, pervasive language, and some drug use. 115 minutes.
TED 2 continues the story of John (Mark Wahlberg) and his foul-mouthed, pot-smoking teddy bear Ted (voice of writer/director Seth MacFarlane). Having lost the element of surprise–since this is a sequel–it relies on the elements that made the first film work. It won’t go down on the short list of great sequels, but it should keep the fans happy.
It opens with Ted marrying Tami-Lynn (Jessica Barth) with an over-the-top production number hearkening back to the old movie musicals MacFarlane enjoys. One year later, the marriage is in serious trouble, until they decide to have a child. This leads to extended sequence involving sperm donation (and a perhaps ill-timed cameo by a certain New England Patriots quarterback) and the realization that they will have to adopt instead.
Finally, the story proper gets underway when Ted learns that, under Massachusetts law, he not a person but merely property. (Massachusetts is referred to as a “state” early on, and–correctly–as a “commonwealth” later in the film.) Ted acquires a newly-minted attorney named Samantha (Amanda Seyfried) to represent him in court, unaware that his arch-nemesis Donny (Giovanni Ribisi) is now working for a major toy company–as a janitor–and still means to get his hands on him.
The jokes are scattershot, mixed in with cameos (including Patrick Warburton and Michael Dorn as a gay couple and Liam Neeson as a creepy supermarket customer), music, drugs, and the enduring friendship between John and Ted. If the film makes you care beyond the gags, it’s because Wahlberg’s dopey but sincere John makes us believe in the relationship with Ted, a CGI creation who is added to the shots afterwards. It’s so seamless that you never doubt Ted’s presence for a moment.
As with other MacFarlane projects (notably the TV series “Family Guy”) the jokes are both scattershot and rapid fire. If a joke falls flat–or grosses you out–you don’t have to wait very long for the next one that may make you laugh out loud. As the new member of the team, Seyfried is game, playing her lawyer seriously but having fun with the fact that she smokes pot for her migraines (which immediately endears her to John and Ted).
The film’s big set piece takes place at New York’s Comic Con with so many pop culture references that fans may wear out their DVDs trying to catch them all. For those with the patience to sit through the closing credits, there is also a gag at the very end.
“Ted 2” is good, silly (and raunchy) summer fun. And to answer everyone’s question: it’s about on par with the original but it’s so much better than MacFarlane’s last outing, the criminally unfunny “A Million Ways to Die in the West.”•••
Daniel M. Kimmel is a veteran movie critic and author of a host of film-related books. His most recent book is “Shh! It’s a Secret: a novel about Aliens, Hollywood and the Bartender’s Guide.” He lives in Somerville, Massachusetts.