Ted 2 returns Seth MacFarlane to the role of the foul mouthed sentient bear as well as the directors chair as Ted campaigns for his right to be seen as a person in the eyes of the law.
The film opens with Ted marrying his girlfriend from the first film Tami-Lynn (Jessica Barth) and progresses through a plot involving desired parenthood, civil rights and the philosophical notion of what makes a person a person.
As plots go it sometimes feel as little too much as it tries to hit on too many issues in a relatively short running time. I actually really liked the idea of the government not recognising Ted as a human being but logically they probably should have noticed it long ago given he has been working, paying bills and managed to get married without anyone saying anything. It’s not worth getting bent out of shape about but it does come across as strange.
The first film was very much John’s (Mark Wahlberg) story with Ted taking on more of a support role but here the focus is flipped to make Ted the star of the show. He has many scenes on his own and the entirety of the narrative is driven by him.
MacFarlane is more than up to the task with his considerable voice talents giving Ted the perfect amount of personality and edge. He feels like a real person with naturally flowing dialogue that is well delivered. There’s also a great deal of emotional range to the performance as Ted is shown to be really vulnerable at several key points.
Mark Wahlberg is great here as well. He has an excellent sense of comic timing and makes for a perfect double act with the CGI bear. His role is vastly diminished in this film compared to the first but what he has is made good use of. His friendship with Ted is well handled and feels very genuine.
Mila Kunis is replaced with Amanda Seyfried’s Samantha L. Jackson -some of the gags are that contrived- as the love interest for this outing. Kunis’ character Lori divorced John between films so Samantha steps in to fill her place. She figures much more into the plot than Lori did with her presence as the lawyer feeling instrumental to the plot. Samantha is a much better match for John than Lori was as she shares his love of pot which apparently is really important.
Most of the time Samantha feels like a collection of traits rather than a character in her own right. She has some built in flaws such as not knowing movies or other pop culture stuff and is inexperienced as a lawyer. Her positive traits include her recreational drug use and her killer singer voice as well as guitar playing talent.
Seyfried is pretty good here but a lot of her character is very surface level so she often doesn’t have a lot to work with. Her comic timing is fine but not on a par with Wahlberg’s but they have nice chemistry together so it’s easy to root for them to get together. Some of the best gags in the film poke fun at Seyfried’s massive eyes so props to MacFarlane for making good use of his casting.
Jessica Barth’s Tami-Lynn is surprisingly fleshed out here after basically being a gag in the first film. It’s certainly unexpected that she would be the woman that Ted marries after how wholly ridiculed she was last time. Barth does a really good job and the script elevates her to something resembling a character. She does disappear for long stretches of the film but when she does appear she fits right in.
The real questions many will ask about this film is whether it holds up in comparison to the first one or if it’s at all funny. I’d say yes on both counts. I haven’t seen the first one in quite some time but I’d say this one is about on par as far as my memory of it goes. It does have many of the same problems such as some of the gags being really terrible and an overlong running time that could easily have trimmed 20 minutes and been all the better for it. This film even has the pointless villain subplot involving Giovanni Ribisi’s Donny making an unwelcome return. Whenever he shows up the film grinds to a halt.
In terms of comedy it’s very reminiscent of every Seth MacFarlane thing you have ever seen. If you enjoy Family Guy, American Dad and to a much lesser extent The Cleveland Show then this will be right up your alley. In a lot of ways it feels like a very extended Family Guy episode which is no bad thing when it works out like this. Watch out for some amazing celebrity cameos and some not so good ones.
It’s a pretty good time but runs a bit long. If you like other Seth MacFarlane stuff then this is definitely for you. It’s about as good as the first one so if you were a fan of that then you’ll have a good time here.
A solid and funny experience that shows there is a lot of mileage left in the foul mouthed sentient teddy bear.
The story is a little bit all over the place but does manage to touch on some important philosophical ideas and attempts to tackle a very real civil rights issue through the lens of a teddy bear. There’s another pointless villain subplot that wasn’t really needed like in the first one and the whole thing could have stood to be about 20 minutes shorter.
Seth MacFarlane does a great job as Ted as expected. As voice actors go there are few that can equal his talent and it gets put to great use here. Ted has so much personality and comes across as incredibly real at all points. It’s easy to get invested in him as a character.
Mark Wahlberg’s role is vastly dialed back compared to the first one but when he’s onscreen he does an excellent job. He and MacFarlane bounce off each other really well and Wahlberg’s comic timing is completely on point here. He’s just a really funny guy.
Amanda Seyfried replaces Mila Kunis as the love interest and her comic timing isn’t quite on a par. Her character does fit the story a lot better though and her chemistry with Mark Wahlberg is strong and believable. She’s a much better fit for this sort of film than Kunis’ character was.
The gags are somewhat hit and miss but thankfully most of them manage to be a little funny. There are some really great uses of celebrity cameos and some genuine laugh out loud moments throughout. It’s never really boring overall and averages out as being a funny film.
I’d definitely recommend this is you’re a fan of Seth MacFarlane’s work and enjoyed the first film. You could do a lot worse on comedies.