I wasn’t inebriated during my viewing of Ted 2 but I wonder if watching it stoned would have actually made it funnier. I have college buddies who insist movies like Van Wilder and Half Baked are hilarious, only that they must be viewed while inhaling copious amounts of weed to be funny. This isn’t what I’d call a rave review, though the editors of High Times may disagree with me. There are many marijuana jokes in Ted 2 and lots of random bits that might be amusing if you’re stoned. Watching the movie sober, I was all too aware how little laughter broke out in the crowded theater I was in during its opening weekend.
So much of this plays like the original, including how it runs out of steam long before it gets to the third act. Mark Wahlberg again plays a stoner whose best friend, Ted (voiced by the film’s writer/director, Seth MacFarlane), is a talking teddy bear. This time, Ted takes legal action to let the world know he is “real” and not a “thing.” The topic of gaining legal acceptance and rights should have timely resonance but it never connects. The plot is a formulaic clothesline to hang gags on and the story frequently sputters every time it becomes genuinely sentimental. Sincerity isn’t one of MacFarlane’s strong points.
There are two scenes, back-to-back, that you haven’t seen before: the elaborate song and dance opening credits and a harsh, unpleasant scene of a domestic quarrel. Both sequences are made unusual in that they’re centered around a teddy bear. The problem, like much of the movie, neither of these sequences are very funny.
Ted 2 is pretty weak from start to finish, with a low quotient of jokes that “hit,” while the gags that “miss” are, for a while at least, less impacting because of how many jokes there are within a minute. The biggest compliment I can give is that this is consistently better than MacFarlane’s woeful A Million Ways to Die in the West from last summer.
Mark Wahlberg has a difficult time playing “dumb,” as his performance ranges from game to unconvincing. Once again, Amanda Seyfried is misused, given a role that doesn’t play to her strengths and, oddly, once again makes fun of her large eyes. MacFarlane’s vocal performance (combined with lifelike CGI) makes us believe in Ted but not enough to make any of this feel fresh. Morgan Freeman looks uncomfortable, as do several of the celebrity cameos.
There are references to The Breakfast Club, Planes, Trains and Automobiles and Regarding Henry that feel like in-jokes only MacFarlane finds funny. The best jokes come early, like the definitive way Wahlberg and Ted get rid of a computer overloaded with porn. I also liked the nauseating but uproarious sperm bank scene and the song Seyfried sings rather nicely, though it belongs on one of MacFarlane’s albums and not this movie. Not reprising the foul but hilarious “Thunder Buddies” song from the original was a mistake (how could they not repeat a joke so golden?).
An extended sequence set at New York Comic Con feels like a set-up for true comedic inspiration. Instead, this drawn-out portion results in an uninspired fight scene and falls flat.
MacFarlane’s Family Guy is equally hit and miss but I can’t deny his talent or that he’s made me laugh before. Ted 2 is the kind of sequel that seems like it can’t miss, because the high concept premise is so obvious, but much of it fails, because it seems so confident that it’s a sure thing. It’s like the movie itself is so high, it can’t even tell what a drag it is, man.