Ted’s return a bit hard to bear
Ted 2 (MA15+) National release
Here’s an interesting factoid about actor Mark Wahlberg: in his near 40-film career he has not made a sequel — until now. Asked about that in a recent interview he said, “For me, the rule is that if you can make it better than the first, then it’s worth doing.’’ On the evidence of he would be advised to stick to his no-sequels instinct.
The idea behind Ted had charm. A 10-yearold boy wishes his teddy bear to life. Fast forward 20 years and the public novelty of a sentient stuffed toy has worn off so Ted lives in relative anonymity with the grown but emotionally adolescent John (Wahlberg).
They are foul-mouthed, pot-smoking slackers, stuck to the couch in their Boston flat, interested in low entertainment and high times. The feature film directorial debut of Family Guy creator Seth MacFarlane (who voices Ted), the 2012 film was a smash hit, with box office returns of tenfold its $US50 million budget.
The idea behind MacFarlane’s sequel is topical — how do we define personhood? — and it’s not hard to see why it appealed to Wahlberg, who was excellent in Tim Burton’s 2001 remake of The Planet of the Apes. But he is let down by a hit-and-miss script that relies too much on crudity and profanity for its laughs and a bitsand-pieces plot that ends up feeling like a series of stitched together television comedy sketches.
Some of these vignettes are genuinely funny, such as when John and Ted riff on what the F stands for in F. Scott Fitzgerald (no prizes for guessing what they think), or in an early scene when hard man Liam Neeson (one of several star cameos) buys a box of breakfast cereal at the supermarket where Ted works the checkout. “If I purchase this Trix,’’ he says in Taken mode, “there will be no problem?”
But too often the scenes seem to exist for no good reason, such as a long and tedious fight sequence at a comic-book convention. Towards the end of this overlong film, I found myself thinking back to that terrific Neeson bit as though it happened in another lifetime.
There are lots of references to other films and film characters, but it’s as though MacFar- lane thinks making the allusion is enough, that audiences will laugh at mere recognition, rather than because something clever or funny is going on. Here’s an example, and it may be a good guide to whether MacFarlane’s humour is for you: there’s an escapade involving American football star Tom Brady in which Ted turns up kitted out in a Paddington Bear yellow raincoat and hat. The reason: he doesn’t want Brady’s sperm all over his fur.
Reproduction is central to Ted 2. In a pre-title sequence Ted marries Tami-Lynn (Jessica Barth), his girlfriend from the previous film. We also learn that John is unhappily divorced.
A year later, Ted and Tami-Lynn’s marriage is on the rocks. The solution is to have a baby, but Ted’s penis-less state presents a challenge. There’s a search for a sperm donor (which includes a slapstick scene in a sperm bank (which I had to look away from) and there are inquiries made about adoption.
This quest for parenthood has the unexpec-
Ted 2 ted consequence of drawing attention to Ted’s legal status. Is he a person or is he property? It’s a question that leads to the courts, some heavyhanded comparisons with the slavery era and, inevitably, to Morgan Freeman as a famous civil rights lawyer, a role in which he is so dull it’s possible he didn’t receive the memo about this being a comedy.
Ted and John are helped by pretty young novice lawyer Samantha Jackson, played by Amanda Seyfried, who was so good in Noah Baumbach’s recent While We’re Young but here is the butt of Golem jokes about her large eyes (and, of course, John’s potential love interest). There’s yet another subplot about mad Donny (Giovanni Ribisi) from the first film and his quest to own Ted.
It would be easy to say that if you liked Ted you will like Ted 2. By and large it’s more of the same. But sometimes more of the same is too much. I found Ted mildly amusing but this sequel mainly — forgive the pun — unbearable.
Mark Wahlberg, Ted (voiced by Seth MacFarlane) and Amanda Seyfried in