Seth MacFarlane is funny, no doubt, but he’s quickly proven he’s not a filmmaker, or, at least not a very good one. Whether you love Ted or can even stomach A Million Ways to Die in the West, you may remember laughing at either film, but you won’t come away believing they were made by a director with any kind of substantial control over storytelling, editing or direction. A Million Ways to Die in the West is best left forgotten, both comically and narratively, and Ted was about as cliche as they come outside of the fact it centered on a talking, drug and sex-addicted teddy bear with a foul mouth.
Admittedly, the concept is comical, and in the early going the first film had its share of laughs before it became Ted 2 I will admit I laughed even more. I’ll go even further and say Ted 2 didn’t annoy me nearly as much as the first film, but that’s only because Ted 2 has even less of a cohesive narrative and instead is just a flurry of comedic vignettes, stalled by some of the worst dramatic inserts you’ll find in a movie today.
First, the plot, as limited as it may be. The film opens with Ted (voiced by MacFarlane) marrying his fellow grocery store cashier Tami-Lynn (Jessica Barth) while Ted’s “thunder buddy” John (Mark Wahlberg) is lonely and divorced. Flash forward a year later and Ted and Tami-Lynn don’t exactly have the best marriage, which is when it’s suggested they have a baby, a solution MacFarlane is fully aware of the stupidity behind it.
A problem arises, however, not only does Ted not possess the proper anatomy, but Tami-Lynn’s womb is so badly damaged from years of drug addiction artificial insemination isn’t an option either. The two eventually turn toward adoption, a process that results in a red flag and the government questions whether or not Ted is actually a human being or is he merely property? Their marriage is annulled, Ted is fired from his job and the crux of the film turns into something of a civil rights satire with plenty of obvious, last minute ADR work done to make the jokes seem as timely as possible.
Ted 2 will have the largest comedic impact if seen with some measure of immediacy. Plenty of punchlines including mentions of Ferguson, Bill Cosby and even Deflategate were clearly thrown in late in the game as we don’t see the characters’ mouths even move when the words are heard. But this is all this film is going for. The plot I laid out above is merely a means to deliver punchlines and various comedic asides.
A dinner time conversation is suddenly stopped so the characters can rush to the roof and throw apples at joggers. Following Ted and John’s attempt to steal New England Patriots’ quarterback Tom Brady‘s semen, MacFarlane includes a needless shot of two cops responding to the call. Jokes are extended to their breaking point and used repeatedly and nods to The Breakfast Club and Planes, Trains and Automobiles are quite recognizable for those familiar with either film. Comically, some of this works, some of it doesn’t, but most importantly, none of it has much at all to do with the actual plot.
One sequence has Ted taking the wheel of the car as he, John and their lawyer (Amanda Seyfried, who shows she’s more than willing to make fun of herself) head to New York to meet with a lawyer played by Morgan Freeman only to find the car eventually wrecked in the side of a barn outside a marijuana field. The sequence stops the film’s momentum, but it does have some jokes that make you laugh and others that fall flat, that’s your trade off.
Then come the celebrity cameos from Flash Gordon star Sam J. Jones back again and serving as minister, followed by Michael Dorn, Patrick Warburton, Dennis Haysbert, Jay Leno, Kate McKinnon, Taran Killam and one other I won’t mention merely because their appearance while, again, has nothing to do with the plot, may in fact be the funniest scene in the movie.
Ted 2 is the equivalent of a stand-up comedian taking the stage and his opening line being, “So, I got my dick cut off and now the state says I’m no longer a man. So I hired a lawyer, got high and threw an apple at a jogger. Hey oh! Now watch me throw a Cookie Crisp into this blind guy’s ass crack and what about that Bill Cosby am I right?” And this is how some comedians work, tying stories together to get to another story all with the intention of telling us a joke, and we laugh, but we don’t look back at their set and find any recognizable three act structure as much as we find them hitting punchlines at the right moments to, hopefully, make sure the audience doesn’t fall asleep.
Ted 2 is not a good movie, but it’s definitely good for some laughs. You won’t find yourself concerned about the plot or characters and at times you’ll be as confused as to what’s taking place as I was — such as a brawl that breaks out at the New York City Comic Con — but in the end, amid the tedium, are just enough laughs to make this one a little less insufferable than the first.