Four years ago a foul-mouthed, pot-smoking, talking teddy bear showed up on the silver screen in a film aptly titled “Ted.” Watching a stuffed animal strutting around and dropping copious F-bombs pleased so many moviegoers that the film raked in an astounding $550 million in box offices around the world.
And of course when a film is this successful, it means only one thing – a sequel. Thus our potty-mouthed Ted has returned in all his glory to star in a new movie with the incredibly imaginative, amazingly original, astoundingly refreshing, and brilliantly innovative title of “Ted 2.” Such inventiveness takes my breath away, and a case of “sequelitis” has hit this film hard.
As the film begins, we find ourselves at the wedding of Ted (Seth MacFarlane – voice and motion capture) and Tami-Lynn (Jessica Barth), six months after Ted’s best buddy, John Bennett (Mark Wahlberg), went through a divorce. After the wedding ceremony, we attend the reception, where the dancing ultimately segues into a sensational production number (more about this later) during the opening credits.
Now we move ahead a year, and marital bliss has faded from the lives of Ted and Tami-Lynn. They bicker constantly both at home and at the supermarket where they both work. Finally the two of them decide that the best thing for their marriage would be to have a baby. Of course this poses a problem because Ted has no human reproductive equipment, and he calls on John to give him some advice.
I really don’t know how much more to reveal about the plot without spoiling the film for those who plan to see it, and so I’ll be as vague as possible. The first thing John and Ted investigate is the possibility of finding a sperm donor, and they are successful, but this doesn’t work out. The next step is for Ted and Tami-Lynn to adopt a baby, but they run into trouble here when adoption officials rule that Ted is not a human being and should be classified as property.
Naturally Ted is heartbroken. Or should we say stuffing broken because he really doesn’t really have a heart? His last alternative is to take his case to court, and from this point on the film recounts a series of events not worth discussing any further here.
Let’s get some of the main questions out of the way first. Is the film as good as the original? No. Is it as funny as the first one? No. Is it worth the full price of admission? Absolutely not. Does Ted still do drugs? Yes. Does he use the F-bomb? Frequently. Now that we have those out of the way, let’s proceed.
The reason the original “Ted” did so well at the box office is that when the film came out, it was fresh and original. People flocked to theaters out of curiosity. After all how many films have been made about drug-using, profanity-spewing, pornography-loving, perverted toy? Even though I wasn’t a huge fan of the original, I appreciated the innovative concept, and parts of it were funny because it was so outrageously different.
Unfortunately “Ted 2” is nothing more than the same thing as the first one, and thus the element surprise is completely gone. Even the plotline of Ted’s wanting to be a real person has been done before. Can you say, “Pinocchio”? In the film’s production notes, however, MacFarlane talked about the sequel’s originality.
“It’s a little easier with a comedy because comedy is generally character based, as opposed to premise based, and in a way you treat it like a TV series. You have these characters that can be put in any situation, and we felt that Ted and John could sustain a totally different story. They were very strong in and of themselves, and so it was conceivable to do a sequel that would be worthwhile. So, it was fun to go in and figure out what we could do with these characters that would be completely different from what we did in the last movie.”
And producer Scott Stuber explained his take on “Ted 2.”
“Making any sequel is always a challenge because you have to come up with something original. Seth and Alec and Wellesley (writers Alec Sulkin and Wellesley Wild) wanted to make a better film than the first one and worked hard to mix the comedy with an existential question of who we are as people. To their credit, they created a movie that’s about something. Not only do we continue all the great things audiences fell in love with: the relationship between Ted and John and all that comes with it, but there are also a ton of surprises. We’re proud to have created something original that also includes elements that you love from the first film.”
With all due respect to the director and producer, I must have seen a different movie from the one they are talking about. Of course the storyline was a bit different, but the film contained plenty of tasteless humor about African-Americans and gays, and Ted was a carbon copy of what he was in the first film. However, I’m sure that those who loved the original probably will like the sequel, but when you’ve seen one teddy bear say “fuck,” you’ve seen them all.
Now you probably think I’m going to hit this film with the big goose egg, but it did contain three things that I found entertaining. The first is the fabulous production number preceding the opening credits. This was a superb dance segment reminiscent of the great old musicals during the 1930s and 1940s, and Fred and Ginger would have loved it.
The second segment I liked occurred early in the movie when Ted is working as a cashier in the supermarket, and a guy comes to his register to buy a box of Trix. Playing the unnamed customer is none other than Hollywood tough guy Liam Neeson, and his dialogue with Ted is priceless.
Finally, there is a scene in which Ted and John are talking with their lawyer, and they are shocked that she doesn’t know who Rocky Balboa is. But she counters by asking them if they know who wrote “The Great Gatsby.” The ensuing conversation is a classic. Now it’s time for the moment of truth.
Because of the aforementioned things I liked about the film, “Ted 2” earns the final score of three. Therefore, it avoids the embarrassment of a zero, but just “bearly.