Ted was a sleeper hit with fans and many critics in 2012 due to its high-concept approach to lowbrow humor. The sequel that no one was exactly clamoring for also shoots for the moon conceptually, but ultimately splatters to the ground like the gallons of donated semen that rain down upon Mark Wahlberg in the film’s first act. Instead of focusing on the long view of a successful childhood wish and its impact on adult relationships, Ted 2 injects heavy subjects like marriage equality and civil rights into its raunchy comedy about a foul-mouthed talking toy. The result is a semi-racist stoner comedy that thinks dicks are absolutely fucking hilarious.

The movie commits the cardinal sin of sequels—it undermines the original. After all, Mila Kunis’s central character was responsible in the first film for resurrecting a torn-asunder Ted with her own shooting-star wish. But Kunis was likely too busy sharing scenes with the half-dog Channing Tatum in Jupiter Ascending to sign on for a second stint with a Seth MacFarlane-voiced teddy bear. Her absence is explained away in the first few minutes of Ted 2: John (Wahlberg) simply “married the wrong girl.” On the other side of the coin, Ted gets hitched to his main squeeze from the first film, the strongly Boston-accented Tami-Lynn (Jessica Barth). There are some early laughs and an impressive Busby Berkeley-esque dance number, but the film takes a precipitous downturn by the time Ted and John go to great lengths to get their mitts on some grade-A sperm so Ted and Tami-Lynn can have a baby.

A failed attempt at harvesting a sleeping Tom Brady’s jizz is rendered moot because Tami-Lynn’s baby-making bits have been ruined by years of drug abuse, so the unconventional couple turns to an adoption agency. This triggers previously overlooked red flags within the federal government, and Ted is officially deemed to be property, not a person. He loses his grocery store gig and his marriage is annulled. Cue Amanda Seyfried as a wet-behind-the-ears pro bono attorney who represents Ted in his civil rights hearing. She may be grossly inexperienced for such a landmark case, but it helps that, when John and Ted first meet with her, she whips out a giant bong right there in the law office. Stoner hijinks ensue, and John just might have a new love interest after all. Plus, we get to hear a Dred Scott parallel made in relation to the plight of a CGI teddy bear. Hilarious!

MacFarlane’s script seems obsessed with race and dongs, and a nonsensical running joke about Google inevitably pairing the two together. Ted also takes time to point out that (to American ears) Koreans have funny-sounding names and that black people love Tyler Perry. The few black characters that do appear early on either dig soul music or complain about how things were better in Africa when one’s boobs could freely hang. I suppose MacFarlane felt he had some extra racial leeway given that he eventually gets none other than Morgan Freeman to lecture about the Emancipation Proclamation in a courtroom (again, in relation to a teddy bear).

The whole person-not-property plot is simply misguided. Ted was intriguing because it focused on the long term ramifications of a childhood wish and subverted that movie trope in the process. Ted 2 tries to be socially relevant, but ends up just being in poor taste, even for a dick-centric stoner comedy. But with the feds weighing in Ted’s unique status, it becomes even stranger that no layperson ever seems the least bit surprised or interested to see Ted walking down the street.

What Ted 2 does have going for it is MacFarlane’s knack for oddball non sequitur and cultural references. That and a bevy of celebrity cameos actually land some funny jokes. The film’s funniest sequence involves a stone-faced Liam Neeson approaching Ted’s grocery checkout aisle and—taking the breakfast cereal’s slogan literally—gravely inquiring whether there’d be any trouble if he, an adult, purchased a box of Trix. Jay Leno proves he can only evoke laughs when he actually emerges from a men’s restroom after a sex joke is made about him. “SNL” cast members skewer that show’s weaknesses with a dreadful sketch about Ted’s court case. Even Tom Brady gets his Brett Favre in There’s Something about Mary moment. And then there’s the timely use of the Jurassic Park theme.

Ted 2 stretches on for nearly two hours, and its conclusion mirrors many elements of the original. Giovanni Ribisi returns as a creepy stalker and imperils Ted. This time the film’s big finish ends up at Comic-Con instead of Fenway Park. But there’s nothing subversive or original about it. The sequel comes off as a bloated cash grab, and one that exploits historical civil rights struggles to boot.

  • Revisit: Bubba Ho-Tep

    An over-the-top story about Elvis and JFK battling a mummy in a nursing home seems quaint …
  • The Toll

    While it gets a lot of mileage out of its unnerving setup and compelling characters, The T…
  • Holy Hell! A.I. Artificial Intelligence turns 20

    Despite its title, A.I. Artificial Intelligence delves deeply into what it means to be hum…
  • Oeuvre: Fellini: I Vitelloni

    I Vitelloni is nothing if not a bona fide neorealist classic. …
  • For the Sake of Vicious

    Eveneshen and Carrer plant their own ultra-violent flag in the action-horror niche, delive…
  • Slalom

    This challenging and rewarding film is characterized by its intelligence and compassion. …

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

Check Also

Revisit: Bubba Ho-Tep

An over-the-top story about Elvis and JFK battling a mummy in a nursing home seems quaint …