In the sequel to 2012’s smash hit Ted, can Seth MacFarlane make up for the lackluster success of A Million Ways To Die In The West (Although I thought it was OK and it did make a little money)? Originally, Ted 2 was going to be a Smokey And The Bandit homage about John and Ted driving pot cross country but We’re The Millers came out with basically the same story so they had to start over. Add to that the fact that Mila Kunis’ pregnancy made her unavailable to film and it looked like this film might be in trouble. Could MacFarlane get his old groove back?
Taking place several years after the original, the film starts six months after John (Mark Wahlberg) and Lori’s (Mila Kunis) divorce with Ted and Tami-Lyn (Jessica Barth) getting married. Things go downhill fast though, and suddenly Ted and Tami-Lyn are having marital problems and hope to fix them by having a baby. Being physically unable to have a child, they seek to adopt which sets off a firestorm of Ted’s legal status. He ends up losing his job, his bank account, his credit cards, and has his marriage annulled.
“Sodomy is still outlawed?”
John and Ted decide to go to court for his civil rights and get partnered up with Samantha Jackson (Amanda Seyfried- A Million Ways To Die In The West), a young attorney needing the experience. Lurking in the corners though is Donny (Giovanni Ribisi), who after unsuccessfully kidnapping Ted in the first film has gotten a job at Hasbro toys as a janitor. If Ted loses his legal status, Donny convinces his boss they can kidnap him, reverse engineer him, and sell sentient talking teddy bears to every child on Earth. Will Donny’s plan come to fruition? Will Ted and Tami-Lynn’s love conquer all? Will John get back on the dating horse? You’ll have to see it to find out.
Let’s start out with the problems… there really aren’t any. If you didn’t like the first Ted, maybe this isn’t for you. If I’m just looking for things to complain about I’d say the opening dance sequence is totally unnecessary (Although par for the course for Seth MacFarlane). The first thirty minutes could probably be taken out or trimmed down (Although the Kardashian joke was my favorite in the film). The whole plot line where John is romantically down on his luck seemed added at the last minute just so he would have something to do. To be honest though, I think the reason I believed he should have a bit more gravitas is because although in the first film he was the main character and this one is solidly about Ted I think I had a hard time taking a CGI character as the center of the plot. Again though, these are small things. Gun to my head, those were my issues. Oh, and Tom Brady was in it and fuck that guy.
I’d like to bury that beautiful bastard at the bottom of a river.
You could maybe argue that the cameos were somewhat inconsistent and out of place, but they were all funny. That acting was great all around in this movie. I’m still at a loss how Mark Wahlberg is so good at playing an idiot (Between these movies and The Other Guys). Seyfried is adorable as a stoner and somewhat aloof but hardworking attorney. She excelled at just playing a normal chick like the ones you meet every day but put that little bit extra on it to be enticing, particularly in the scene where she plays the guitar and sings. Sam Jones (Flash Gordon) does another great performance as the over the top celebrity. All the supporting roles are cast beautifully. John Carroll Lynch (You will recognize him from everything), Ron Canada (He plays the Judge), and Star Trek alum Nana Visitor are all great. John Slattery is perfect as the prosecutor. The only person I thought was off a bit was Dennis Haysbert and he was still funny.
Guy (Patrick Warburton) from the first film returns with his new boyfriend played by Michael Dorn. This was possibly my favorite thing about this film. Slight spoiler alert, they play a gay couple that enjoys bullying nerds. To take it even further, they appear at the New York comic-con cosplaying as characters that the actors both actually played (Warburton was The Tick and Dorn played Warf on Star Trek TNG). It’s one of the most original things I’ve seen in the last few years. Giovanni Ribisi’s portrayal of Donny might be even funnier/creepier than in the first film. That’s how good this movie is. Even the bad guy is kind of endearing. At the end of the day though, it’s the Seth MacFarlane show.
“Where the fuck are my nuggets?”
MacFarlane is so good at doing MacFarlane things it’s probably not even a challenge for him anymore. His tone, timing, inflections, and basically everything you look for in a performance besides facial expression and non-verbal acting are exquisite (Which some would argue is easier when you’re the writer/director as well). To be honest, I would kind of like to see him try just acting in something else he didn’t write to see how really good he is. I thought he did a tremendous job in Hellboy 2 but again, he’s off camera. I think A Million Ways To Die In The West only touched the tip of the iceberg as to what he’s capable of as an actor.
Any praise is really about him though. He’s the man in charge. He’s getting to do what I think almost every director dreams of, making movies with his friends. Almost every person in this film has worked with MacFarlane before. Fellow writers have cameos or characters named after them. There’s even a brief flash of Peter Griffin fighting a giant chicken. I bet it was a bunch of fun to be on set and that really shined through in the performances. It was very Kevin Smith-ish, and I mean that in the best way. It even had a funny post-credits Easter Egg possibly setting up a third film.
“What do you mean Liam Neeson has kidnapped Tami-Lynn?”
Although the first film had a letting-go-of-chilidish-things theme throughout, it definitely took a back burner to the jokes. Don’t get me wrong, Ted is one of the funniest films I’ve ever seen, I’m just saying that there’s not a ton of heart in it although it certainly has its moments. Ted 2 is a bit more relatable, I think. This is the best kind of sequel. Instead of taking characters and putting them in the exact same situation in a different location (Think the Die Hard or Hangover movies), they use them to explore new emotions and situations. To be honest, I can’t even believe I’m saying this about an R rated comedy.
Bear in a suit? HILARIOUS!
This film uses a funny approach to bring light to it’s not-so-subtle parallels with gay rights (In an interesting twist, it happened to come out on the day the Supreme Court ruled on gay marriage). This, more than anything, I think nudges it past part one. It’s a tremendously funny movie but at the end of the day, it whips a little message at you too. Hard to say if this was better than the first but I think so. If not, at least as good as. A-
T-Bagz still has Care Bear dolls on his bed