Starring: Mark Wahlberg, Seth MacFarlane, Amanda Seyfried
Now that Sentient Teddy Bear Ted (MacFarlane) has been married for some time, he and his wife (Jessica Barth) plan to adopt. However, after their application is rejected, it brings to light huge legal questions regarding Ted’s official status as a person. With the help of a rookie (and also pot smoking) lawyer (Seyfried) and his best friend John (Wahlberg), Ted must now face almost insurmountable odds to maintain his legal status as a ‘person’.
Oh, and there is also a random subplot to fill time in there somewhere involving the antagonist of the first film (Giovanni Ribisi).
There were many horrific things about Seth MacFarlane’s comedy-western A Million Ways to Die in the West, but the worst was MacFarlane’s cringe inducing screen awkwardness, proving that he should stick to being voice actor. Well, the good news for now is that he has gone back to being off-screen and so has decided to release the second instalment about his swearing and pot-smoking teddy bear. Unfortunately that is pretty much the only good thing about this shameless cash-in sequel, which is a painful viewing experience for its entire 115 minutes.
Comedy and humour is of course subjective, and while it will probably not shock many to discover that I hate Ted 2, my argument as to why this film is terrible is not the fact the comedy is crude and crass for the sake of it, but primarily down to Seth MacFarlane yet again seeming to have no understanding or care for narrative structure. It may be one or the other, or indeed both; either way MacFarlane seems to demonstrate the same complacent, arrogant hubris that Adam Sandler does, and it quite frankly makes for an experience that insults the intelligence of good honest film viewers.
No matter what kind of humour or how low its tone, it is impossible for it to work when it is in a film that has such a shoddily put together narrative. As with many films, we have scenes of apparent humour and serious scenes of apparent emotion. This of course is perfectly normal and can work very well, but MacFarlane puts these together in a narrative that is almost bipolar in how it constantly goes from one extreme to the other in a blink of an eye.
This extreme storytelling incompetence (compounded by the fact the actual plot is extremely shoddy in its presentation too) makes it impossible to care for the characters or be engaged by the plot when we are supposed to be. One second we have a character making a grand and heartfelt speech about what it means to be human, and then within the blink of an eye we have a gag involving sperm. MacFarlane seems to quite happily stick to the Judd Apatow School of Storytelling by lazily making Ted 2 a series of sketches that are just put together around some half arsed storyline. Also, at 115 minutes it is way too long, proving that MacFarlane really is just making these films for himself, and he knows that Ted 2, like its predecessor, will make money. Perhaps therein lies part of the problem; just like with Adam Sandler, all the time his films make money Seth MacFarlane will not even feel the need to make any kind of effort with his films.
This is all a shame as, like with all MacFarlane films, there is potential. He is obviously a man that has a deep understanding of popular culture, and there are admittedly a few funny gags in Ted 2 where MacFarlane utilises this knowledge (particularly when they go to Comic Con), but most of the time he just decides to be as puerile as possible and go for lowest-common-denominator gags. Meanwhile the entire cast are also on total autopilot, making no effort whatsoever, with only Giovanni Ribisi being slightly memorable. The direction and camera work is also rather shoddy, which is a shame as one of the few good things about A Million Ways to Die in the West was that in terms of its visuals, it was well shot at times.
As with his previous films, there is once again also potential in the concept of Ted 2, but until MacFarlane falls of his extremely high horse and understands that when making a feature length film you have to actually make some kind of effort with the narrative structure, he will continue to alienate and insult the intelligence of cinema goers everywhere.
Puerile humour, comatose performances and complete narrative incompetence make Ted 2 a viewing experience that is alienating and infuriating. Seth MacFarlane needs a few lessons in narrative structure before ever being allowed to make a film again!