Thursday, July 2, 2015

TED 2 (2015)

Rated:  R

STARS: Seth MacFarlane, Mark Wahlberg, Amanda Seyfried, Jessica Barth, Morgan Freeman
DIRECTOR: Seth MacFarlane
GENRE: Comedy

From the flashy Busby Berkeley-esque dance number at the get-go, I had the feeling that Seth MacFarlane was going to pull out all the stops for Ted 2, and I wasn't wrong. The teddy bear that came to life one day (thumpety thump thump...thumpety thump thump--oh wait, that was Frosty) is back, with his favorite human pal, John (Mark Walhberg). And they are up to more of the same hijinks that made the original Ted a smash.

Ted has married his gum smacking sweetheart, Tami Lynn  (Jessica Barth), and now they want to have a child. But being as Ted isn't properly "equipped" for the job, John agrees to become a sperm donor. I'll spare you the details of the havoc John and Ted wreak at the sperm bank. Let's just say it takes the gag that everyone remembers from There's Something About Mary to its furthest extreme! When Tami Lynn turns out to be infertile, she and Ted decide to adopt. But during those preliminary proceedings, Ted is declared not to be a person, and therefore disqualified from obtaining a child.. (In an era when even corporations are persons, there's something egregiously unfair about that.)

The plot thickens, and Ted and John look for an attorney to represent Ted in court so he can be declared a person, and they find one in the person of young Samantha (Amanda Seyfried). She's inexperienced and smokes a lot of weed, and though she's not exactly Atticus Finch in the courtroom, she and Ted will have their day, waxing poetically about the struggles of the oppressed throughout history.

MacFarlane never lets the action or the plot get in the way of a good sight gag, which he drops in totally out of the blue, wherever and whenever, giving the film a kind of haphazard, devil-may-care, batshit crazy kind of feel, but you gotta forgive him anything if it makes you guffaw like Goofy...least that's the way I look at it. The gags are often dirty, or biting, with pop culture references galore, and he's taking aim at plenty of targets. Several star cameos, from Tom Brady to Liam Neeson, add to the fun and merriment.

Despite it all, MacFarlane knows how to make you open your fanny pack and fish around for that tissue at the end. Ted just seems so real at this fact, I would say to any young person who might ask: Yes, Virginia...there is a Ted...he exists as certainly as political incorrectness and fart jokes...

You get the picture.

Grade:  A


Seth MacFarlane is definitely an acquired taste. It's easy to imagine some folks being deeply offended by his sophomoric sight gags and in-your-face humor. Fortunately, I am not one of these individuals. And anyone who chooses to see Ted 2 should know (from the first Ted and A Million Ways to Die in The West) that there'll be lots of cameos (One Tim didn't mention is Jay Leno), lots of profanity, and lots of out loud laughter.

Did I think the sequel was as good as the first one? No. Did I thoroughly enjoy it? Absolutely. The original concept of a toy teddy bear turning into Mark Wahlberg's buddy bear was brilliant. By the second version, Ted is still endearing – in a crude, wise-cracking way. But I felt some of the situations were forced, that MacFarlane (along with the other two screen writers, Alec Sulkin and Wellesley Wild) was trying a little too hard to be outrageous. This was particularly evident with Donny, played with appropriate madness by Giovanni Ribisi. Hellbent on kidnapping Ted so he could steal his stuffing to produce more talking teddies, Donny's chase scene – peppered with comic book characters – was a little too over-the-top for me. Still, it didn't stop me from lapping up most of this campy cartoon of a movie.

Grade: B+

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