Ted is back in the sequel that no-one was particularly begging for, as its distinctly average figures at the US Box Office will attest. Sharing the meandering style of plot, Seth MacFarlane’s follow-up is even less consistent than its predecessor, weakly structured across nearly 2 hours of run time. To call the narrative “thin” is an understatement, most of the story’s developments have no use except to provide a location or person for the little fluffy version of Peter Griffin to riff off.
Ted 2 is your typical “hit & miss” sequel, right down to the “between movies divorce” that Wahlberg’s character has suffered from the non-returning Mila Kunis, making room for a new romantic sub-plot with Amanda Seyfried. To be clear, Ted 2 does contain some tremendously funny moments, really finding its feet about an hour in. The problem is that for every big laugh that succeeds there are at least 4 that have fallen flat. The same maths apply to the film’s cameo appearances: Liam Neeson’s is excellent but Jay Leno’s and Tom Brady’s don’t particularly work. The comic atmosphere that MacFarlane is known for is present in Ted 2, yet some segments that would have worked in Family Guy fail to translate over into live-action on the big screen.
While Ted is obviously the comedic driving force behind the majority of the material, credit must be given to Mark Wahlberg who continues to prove himself as a very capable funny-man. Marky-Mark is equally as deserving of praise as Jason Statham, whose recent comic revelation in Paul Feig’s Spy has been incredibly well-received. Amanda Seyfried also performs adeptly, displaying more of her comedy chops than her air-headed role in Mean Girls allowed. As was the case in the original Ted, Giovanni Ribisi is an absolute show stealer, having perfected his mentally disjointed role as Ted’s biggest and creepiest fan. Unfortunately, and again like the first film, his subplot is weak and woefully under-utilised considering that it holds the key to the plot’s entire sense of conflict.
MacFarlane’s return effort with the sentient toy simply needs some of its polyester stuffing removed. Trimming a few less amusing segments and cutting of some unnecessary filler material could create a much-improved, much tighter piece of comedy. It appears to be MacFarlane’s indulgence for his own work that has hindered this effort, and it’s strange that someone so accustomed to creating TV-sized parcels of entertainment can’t see the value in keeping things compact (although this is the man behind the Conway Twitty gags and ever-extending chicken fights, so maybe not).
To clarify again, there is fun to be had with Ted 2 and it’s not a painful watch by any means. MacFarlane’s referential style nails it with a couple of belly-laugh jokes and some of Ted’s one-liners are delivered with perfect timing. and the ability to pause for a refill would make it considerably improve the experience.
★ ★ ½
Ted 2 is out on Blu Ray, DVD and Digital Download NOW.