Ted 2

Seth Macfarlane and Mark Whalberg (Universal Pictures)
Seth Macfarlane and Mark Whalberg (Universal Pictures)

What it's about:

When Ted (the talking teddy bear voiced by Seth McFarlane, for those of you just tuning in) and his new wife, Tami-Lynn (Jessica Barth), try to adopt a child, he quickly learns that he is considered not a living, sentient being but property by the state. Enlisting the help of his best friend John (Mark Wahlberg) and a wet-behind-the-ears young lawyer, Samantha (Amanda Seyfried), Ted takes the matter to court to reinstate his rights as a person – an act that is complicated both by Ted and John's habit of making tremendous messes of their lives and the re-emergence of an old nemesis.   

What we thought

Ted 2 has already been met with a certain amount of hostility, by professional critics and "regular" cinema goers (an impressive feat considering it only opens today worldwide) alike, so I'm apparently going against the grain here but it has to be said: I loved Ted 2. Yes, it's crude, rude, silly and more than a little flawed but I like this cast, I like these characters and I really, really like that it made me laugh pretty much non-stop for very nearly two-hours.  

It seems like every second review I write for this site boils down to my bemoaning the sorry state of modern, big-screen American comedy. And in that rough, oh so very rough, two weeks a couple of months back when I had to sit through Paul Blart 2, Get Hard and Unfinished Business, one after the other, I literally did nothing but bitch and moan about just how far comedy movies have fallen in recent years, as there was, if I recall correctly, not a single real laugh to be had between all three of those films. And, sadly, it was becoming more and more the case that these abominations were becoming the rule, rather than the exception.

Fortunately, over the past few weeks we had Spy, which was erratic as hell but did at least deliver some genuine, laugh-out-loud funny moments with some stand-out comic performances from Rose Byrne and, the man himself, Jason Statham, as well as Melissa McCarthy redeeming herself after a bunch of increasingly grating stinkers. Better yet though, we now have Ted 2, which more than makes up for Spy's inconsistency, delivering more and often even bigger laughs, and almost makes you forget the endless stream of unfunny duds that us comedy fans have had to put up with recently.

Again, it's hardly perfect. Ted 2 comes close to having its comedy being crushed under the weight of its increasingly preposterous plot in the final act of the film, as Giovinni's character once again proves to be an unwelcome distraction as the teddy-bear-loving Donny who spends far too much of the film's running time plotting against Ted and John with the head of Hasbro. Along the way, it also makes the nearly fatal mistake of evoking the real-life horrors of slavery during our heroes' attempts to convince the courts that Ted is more than just property.

Fortunately though, the film is way too knowingly goofy and breezy to allow the latter sin to overwhelm it, as it comes across as a moment of bad judgement, rather than the total trainwreck it could so easily have been. MacFarlane has also greatly improved as a director – he seems to have learned a lot as a filmmaker after the horribly underwhelming A Million Ways to Die in the West – meaning that the film's steadier pace and greater tonal consistency keeps it from being as badly derailed by its third act as it could have been – and indeed was in the case of the first Ted movie. MacFarlane remains a far better comedy writer than a storyteller but he is getting better.

It's interesting: I've never really gotten into either Family Guy or American Dad but when MacFarlane uses a fairly similar - though notably much racier – kind of pop-culture-literate humour in Ted 2 (and in Ted too), it's amazing how often and how successfully it worked for me. Yes, there are some definite misses here and there as some of the jokes utterly failed to find their targets but I laughed often in Ted 2 and I laughed hard.   

I think the big secret here is that the jokes may be funny enough on their own terms but its that they're funnelled through these ludicrous yet awesome characters that are all but impossible not to love that really makes the difference. MacFarlane (well, his voice) is once again great as our foul-mouthed hero, who remains adorable no matter how jaw-droppingly vulgar the words out of his mouth might get, while Wahlberg again proves his comedy chops as Ted's quick-talking yet dim-witted best friend/ sidekick. The rest of the cast do almost as well, with the requisite comic cameos being pretty great this time around – though the more you're clued into the more geeky side of pop-culture, the better these gags work – and Amanda Seyfried fits in far better as the female comedic-foil/ ally/ romantic interest to our heroes than Mila Kunis did in the first film.

And, as a side note, its kind of fun to see stuff like Comic Con, Midtown Comics and Jeff Smith's indie comics as the requisite product placement, rather than your usual Merceded Benzes or Casio watches. Like I say, this one is definitely for the geeks... and, of course, for anyone who wants a comedy that actually, you know, is funny. That's kind of a big one.

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