Starring: Mark Wahlberg, Seth McFarlane, Amanda Seyfried
Directed by: Seth McFarlane (“Ted”)
Written by: Seth McFarlane (“Ted”) Alec Sulkin (“Ted”) & Wellesly Wild (“Ted”)
Comedy sequels are hard to get right. The modern movie-going experience demands that subsequent films in a series top whatever came before it with laughs and worry about the story later, which in most cases leads to a weird phenomenon of things being reset plot-wise. Adversity is reintroduced, non-essential characters are deleted to maximize the funny, and a familiar adversary improbably shows up again to repeat the same story beats from the first film. “Ted 2” is not immune from this ailment, but it may just be funny and offensive enough to power through the familiarity.
The film opens with brought-to-life stuffed bear Ted (voice of Seth McFarlane) marrying Tami-Lynn (Jessica Barth) while his best pal John (Mark Wahlberg) mopes around after his divorce. Fast forward a year to Ted and Tami-Lynn are having relationship problems, which they hope to cure by having a baby. With Ted’s lack of a penis and Tami-Lynn’s infertility standing in the way, they decide to adopt. When filing the paperwork, though, it is discovered that the state of Massachusetts doesn’t recognize Ted as a person, and in order to become a father, he’ll need to prove just that in a court of law. Enter rookie lawyer Samantha (Amanda Seyfried), a pot-smoking pop culture novice who John starts to fall for as they fight to earn Ted’s human rights.
This may be the most socially progressive movie ever made that also happens to feature a Hollywood megastar getting covered in numerous black men’s diseased semen during a pratfall in what seems to be just an elaborate setup for a throwaway Kardashian joke. “Ted 2” mostly shines when sticking to the humor, which is just as gross and offensive and referential as you would expect from a Seth McFarlane project. The film suffers, though, when trudging through the plot in fits and starts. The plight of Ted’s journey to become a legally-recognized person is lumpy and over-long and intercut with a subplot about mega toy company Hasbro (playing itself in what must be the first case of meta product placement, featuring chiefly the idea of toys) angling to re-acquire the rights to Ted (who I guess they manufactured in the first place?) and reverse-engineering his magical life force in an effort to make millions off of living Ted toys–never mind that Ted is a foul-mouthed asshole that would horrify parents and children alike. That trait is what makes the movie often hilarious, but the story of Ted is starting to become thread-bear.