Seth MacFarlane has built his career upon the foundation of vulgarity, pop culture references, and non sequiturs. Though MacFarlane is able to get away with just those three things over the course of a 22-minute animated program, over the course of a two-hour live action comedy, his negligence concerning story becomes all the more apparent as sidebars pile up, bloating the running time and killing the film’s pacing. Ted 2 is a Seth MacFarlane movie through and through. Depending on your perspective, that is either a great thing or an awful thing. From where I was sitting, it sure wasn’t pretty.
Like Ted, the sequel opens with narration by Patrick Stewart before taking us to the wedding of Ted, the profane teddy bear come to life and voiced by MacFarlane, and Tami-Lynn (Jessica Barth). Meanwhile, John (Mark Wahlberg) is a sad sack after his marriage to Lori has dissolved after six months. After a glitzy choreographed musical sequence, the film jumps ahead a year and Ted and Tami-Lynn are having marital troubles. Looking for a way to keep his marriage together, Ted proposes that he and Tami-Lynn have a child together – somehow this proposal squashes all tension between the two; it’s weird. Following a number of non sequiturs, we learn that Tami-Lynn is unable to have children and their attempts to adopt have led the state to deem Ted a piece of property and not a person. Desperate to prove his personhood, Ted and John find a lawyer willing to represent them in court, finding the young pothead attorney Samantha Jackson (Amanda Seyfried). Meanwhile, Donny (Giovani Ribisi), the Ted-obsessed stalker from the last film, is working as a janitor at Hasbro, and has convinced the CEO to fund the state’s defense in court so the toy company can retain the bear as property and see what makes him work to unveil a new line of Ted toys. Dick joke. Pop culture reference. Non sequitur. Morgan Freeman collecting a paycheck. Cameos. The End.
Ted 2 is a weird comedy in that all of its best jokes could be removed from the film without remotely affecting the story. The story as written by MacFarlane, Alec Sulkin, and Wellesley Wild is completely chaotic, picking up and dropping its tangents seemingly at random. Early in the film, Wahlberg’s John is a minor character. He appears when needed, and the job that was part of John’s life in the first film is a complete nonfactor here. The film also takes forever to introduce its central conflict, which only happens after the marital strife between Ted and Tami-Lynn is introduced and resolved. The other conflict of reintroducing Donny and his obsession with Ted is just kind of shoehorned in there and only serve to expand an already robust running time for a comedy. And while Ted 2 is an absurd comedy about an alcoholic, pothead teddy bear come to life, its understanding of the American legal system is simply submoronic.
As I mentioned earlier, there are a number of gags that could be excised without affecting much. That could be said about some of the odd cameos that make a share of Ted 2’s pop culture references. For a few moments at the beginning, it seems as if Ted 2 will compete with Entourage for the crown of pointless cameos – gags with Jay Leno and Liam Neeson are simply baffling, though the Neeson one at least can coax a light chuckle. The most egregious appearance is by Tom Brady. The Patriots quarterback appears so that Ted and John can masturbate the NFL star in his sleep, allowing Ted to harvest his sperm for artificial insemination. Tom Brady may have briefly appeared in Entourage and been suspended for his role in Deflategate, but this appearance in Ted 2 is the absolute worst thing that he’s done all year. During the film’s conclusion at a comic convention, we’re presented Patrick Warburton dressed as the Tick and Michael Dorn dressed as a Klingon – you see, it’s funny because they played those characters in real life!
I have no issues with either vulgarity, pop culture references, or non sequiturs, but for the most part, that’s all Ted 2 has to offer. Simply put, Ted 2 is a two-hour dick joke with references to other movies liberally sprinkled throughout. Like his last film, A Million Ways to Die in the West, MacFarlane has made a comedy that runs well past its point of effectiveness, that gets distracted by any chance to squeeze in an out of place gag. Fans of MacFarlane’s brand of humor will be able to stomach the chaotic nature of Ted 2. MacFarlane detractors, meanwhile, will find the same old complaints about MacFarlane’s writing that were so perfectly lampooned on South Park a few years ago. If you strip away the vulgarity, pop culture references, and non sequiturs, Ted 2 wouldn’t even have enough filler to stuff a teddy bear, let alone a two-hour movie.