In theaters Friday, June 26
2 stars (out of 4 stars)
There comes a point in every person’s life when a beloved, worn-out teddy bear must be put into storage.
For Ted, the foul-mouthed stuffed animal and star of the surprise 2012 hit, that moment has arrived.
Actually . . .that moment arrived about two-thirds of the way through the original (and admittedly laugh-out-loud) comedy, when Ted was kidnapped by an abusive dad and got the stuffing knocked out of him at Fenway Park. Ha.
This unnecessary and tedious sequel is an extension of that unfocused narrative. Except now, as Ted (voiced by director and cowriter Seth MacFarlane) and his dim-witted thunder buddy for life John (Mark Wahlberg) embark on a new adventure of pot, celeb cameos, pot, gross outs, and pot, it plays out like a smug game of “let’s see how we can fill two hours while we cash these ginormous paychecks.” And we’re the losers.
Try to follow along: Ted marries a blonde bimbo. Ted and the blonde bimbo argue. Ted and the blonde bimbo decide to have a kid to save the marriage. But Ted and the blonde bimbo can’t have kids. So Ted and John try to find a sperm donor. Then Ted and the blonde bimbo try to adopt. But Ted can’t adopt because he’s classified as a “property” in Massachusetts. Ted wants his civil rights, and he’s willing to legally fight for it. Meanwhile, creepy kidnapper Donny (Giovanni Ribisi), now a janitor at Hasbro, hatches another plan to call Ted his own. That’s Act 1.
Mila Kunis, who gamely played Wahlberg’s patient fiancee during the first go-round, wisely bowed out of the sequel. Enter new love interest Sam Jackson (get it?) played by Amanda Seyfried, a doe-eyed lawyer hired to take on Ted’s case. She takes hits from a bong in her office because of her headaches and gets razzed from the guys because she’s pop-culture illiterate. Ted makes two jokes about her resemblance to Gollum from Lord of the Rings.
What, that pop culture reference doesn’t make you smile? Fear not, about 300 more are on deck. And while some of them hit (especially the Jurassic Park and Planes, Trains and Automobiles homages), the majority of them are mean-spirited, superfluous misses. The same goes for the celebrity cameos, which serve no purpose other than for MacFarlane to show off his famous friends (Jay Leno) and former coworkers (Liam Neeson). Even the heralded Tom Brady appearance disappoints: He’s a good sport about Deflate-gate and letting Ted and John gaze lovingly at manhood in his bedroom, but where’s Gisele Bundchen? Everyone knows this guy doesn’t sleep alone.
True to form, MacFarlane also tries to shock his audience by throwing a slew of crass un-PC jokes at the screen — think racial slurs and homosexuality gags and 9/11 punchlines. Hearing an adorable toy spew vitriol was shocking once upon a time; now there’s a palpable desperation to the button-pushing. In 2015, there’s no need to include an easy-target (and filthy) joke about the skin color of the men who hook up with the Kardashians.
All of the flick’s deleted scenes apparently made the cut, too. One throwaway in which Ted and John go to a comedy club and yell out insensitive material (Charlie Hebdo, Germanwings, etc.) has zero to do with anything! It’s as if MacFarlane tossed it in just to amuse himself. The self-indulgence extends to the out-of-place tap-dancing sequence during the opening credits and in the running time itself. Six times he could have ended the movie, but it just keeps on going and going and going . . . Oops, that’s the wrong annoying stuffed animal.
MacFarlane, however, does pull off one true jaw-dropper: As Seyfried stands up in court to plead Ted’s case, she earnestly compares his injustice to that of. . . 19th century slavery. Hello, this is a teddy bear. Ted might be able to watch Law & Order reruns while lighting up, but he’s still a bear that squeaks if you press his belly. Equating his plight and the usage of the word “property” to one of the most heart-wrenching chapters in American history is appalling. At best.
Thanks for the laughs, Ted, but it’s time to say goodnight.
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