06th Jul2015

‘Ted 2′ Review

by Jack Kirby

Stars: Mark Wahlberg, Seth MacFarlane, Amanda Seyfried, Jessica Barth, Morgan Freeman, Giovanni Ribisi, Sam J. Jones, Patrick Warburton, Michael Dorn, Bill Smitrovich, John Slattery, Liam Neeson, Dennis Haysbert, Patrick Stewart | Written by Seth MacFarlane, Alec Sulkin, Wellesley Wild | Directed by Seth MacFarlane

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2012′s Ted asked the important questions about what happens to a relationship when your partner’s best friend is a swearing teddy bear with the voice of Peter Griffin. The sequel, Ted 2, asks the important questions about the practicalities of knocking off a follow-up when your original film made more money than anyone could reasonably have expected.

We catch up with Ted and Marky Mark Wahlberg at the bear’s wedding to Tami-Lynn (Jessica Barth). Their marriage soon turns sour and after a predictably horrible incident at a sperm bank, they turn to adoption to reignite their relationship. At this stage, it is revealed that the government won’t let Ted adopt a child as they do not legally acknowledge his person-hood. The rest of the film follows a lengthy legal battle to get Ted recognised as a person, not property.

I was fairly lukewarm on the first film, so was by no means clamouring for a sequel. My problem with it is that it just doesn’t make me laugh. Technically, there’s only really one joke in the film and it’s that there’s a teddy bear that swears. I got over that in 2012 and Ted 2 doesn’t offer anything new. And when you’re sat for nearly two hours watching a comedy and not laughing, then something isn’t right.

The other problem is the plot, which feels like it’s been accidentally surgically grafted on from a different film. Potentially, whether Ted is a person or an object could be a decent through line but Seth MacFarlane (voice, writer, director, etc) never gets the tone right, treating the central question way too seriously. Invoking similar cases regarding slavery is a risky choice too – are we really comparing the trials and tribulations of the swearing teddy bear with the slave trade? Is that really rich and fertile comedic ground? In the absence of Mila Kunis, Amanda Seyfried fills in ‘the woman’ role as the rookie lawyer who takes the case and is generally okay, but her impassioned courtroom speech and all the other serious-serious courtroom human rights stuff simply belong in another film.

Ted 2 meanders from skit to skit without much rhyme or reason. Jokes are overdone; what starts as a smile-inducing Jurassic Park homage is continued to the point where it stops making any kind of sense, for example. It’s also very indulgent, as demonstrated by the big opening credits dance number. Yes Seth, we all know you love Broadway, but when the choreography centres around a CGI bear, it’s a whole lot less impressive. The sequence goes on forever and is played entirely straight. There’s not even a punchline, it just finishes. Other bits added at random include an extended chunk set at New York Comic Con for no real good reason and MacFarlane brings back Giovanni Ribisi’s fairly pointless villain from the first film to add some unnecessary jeopardy in the third act.

The whole thing feels quite tired and, extended dance sequence aside, there’s a half-arsed feel to the whole thing. How and why Whalberg and Kunis have broken up feels contrived and lazy… it would have been funnier and dare I say cleverer to pull some meta crack about her just not wanting to come back one day. It’s stuff like this, stuff that feels forced just to justify the film’s own existence beyond ‘we know we’re gonna make a massive stack of cash from this’ that really grates. It’s not offensively awful – in fact, it makes even less of an impression than that – but I can’t think of a single thing to recommend it. Ted 2 can get stuffed.

Ted 2 is released in the UK on July 8th.

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