Ted 2 (2015)
Directed by Seth MacFarlane
It’s as if Seth MacFarlane had full access to my internet search history, phone records, and inner conscious before writing, directing, and starring in “Ted 2.” Had he consulted me directly, even, asking for a list of everything that I found comical, the sequel to the hit 2012 comedy couldn’t have been made any more hysterical. The man has a direct line to my funny bone. In fact, at the risk of offending my family (so if you’re a relative, please skip the rest of this sentence), I think the term “funny boner” is the only way to truly capture the joy elation that overcomes me when I’m viewing something made at the hands of this man—whether it’s his other feature, “A Million Ways to Die in the West,” or his long-running series “Family Guy.” Needless to say, “Ted 2” does not disappoint. In fact, it’s one of the least disappointing sequels I’ve ever encountered. It’s by far the funniest movie of 2015 (even in June, I can safely predict that), and—I’ll be unapologetically honest here—it’s one of my favorite comedies of all-time. Just look back at my review of “Ted” to see my abounding praise for that contemporary comedy classic. That’s nothing compared to the blubber-fest that’s about to commence.
Too often, sequels (especially comedy sequels) fall into the trap of recycling plot lines. The “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” approach (“The Hangover Part II,” “The Hangover Part III”) doesn’t work. “Ted 2” throws a big middle finger at the comedy sequel formula and goes its own way. A year and a half after the events of “Ted,” the talking teddy (voiced by MacFarlane) is married to Tami-Lynn (Jessica Barth), and the couple is looking to have a baby. But there’s a snag—the state of Massachusetts says that Ted isn’t a human being, and therefore isn’t fit for fatherhood. Along with the help of his best friend Johnny (Mark Wahlberg) and his new lawyer Samantha L. Jackson (Amanda Seyfried), Ted will take his case to court and sue the state for his civil rights.
After the commercial success of “Ted” (at the time of its sequel’s release, it was the 8th highest-grossing R-rated movie of all time), casting became a cinch—who wouldn’t want to be attached to the sequel?! Cameos weren’t hard to come by. But where a lesser sequel would have paraded these celebrities around all willy-nilly, “Ted 2” carefully fits them in where they do the most good. It uses them for the best reasons. Sure, one or two might seem forced—but those ones are funny anyway. And the core cast is mostly back, minus Mila Kunis (rumors have it that her absence isn’t fueled by contractual spats or creative differences, but simply MacFarlane’s desire that Johnny be single). But have no fear! Kunis’s lovable, witty-but-not-vulgar, smart-but-still-naive female role is filled by Amanda Seyfried, who is the perfect sidekick to the funniest buddy duo in recent years. Her wit and charm is their perfect complement. But it’s obviously that duo that draws us back to the theater this summer. Wahlberg is comedy gold. Why he had been stuck in crappy action movies like “The Italian Job” and “Max Payne” for so long, I’ll never know. And as the voice of Ted, MacFarlane can do no wrong. He could say anything and I’d be thoroughly entertained. Somewhere in his crooning, soulful voice is this small hint of exclusivity that makes you feel like you’re in on his joke. Just you and him. Funny boner is the only way to describe it…I know, gross, weird, yuck, but I’m sorry, that’s simply the best way to put it.
Some said “Ted” was like a live-action episode of “Family Guy.” I agree. And this one is even more so. But in a good way. Like 2008 “Family Guy,” back when it was really funny. I don’t think 90 seconds ever went by where I didn’t laugh at least once. But “Ted 2” isn’t even strictly comedic. For a comedy, especially a comedy sequel, it actually has an admirable plot. The classy, old-fashioned MacFarlane wouldn’t have it any other way. There’s the courtroom drama, with civil rights arguments that echo the sometimes social justice-minded “Family Guy.” There’s the subplot with Donny (Giovanni Ribisi), the Ted-napper of the original, and its smooth intersection with the main plot. And there’s some real conflict that makes you think this isn’t a comedy at all. But in the end, you’ll laugh anyway. If you didn’t like “Ted,” you won’t like “Ted 2.” But if you’re like me, and Seth MacFarlane might be your spirit animal, then “Ted 2” might be the summer’s most worthwhile $10. And for me, it most certainly was.