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Bear-ly legal Ted 2'

June 30, 2015
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Sequel lacks the heart of the original

Living in the age of Hollywood recycling, we should never be surprised to see a sequel. And when the first film is successful to an unanticipated degree, prepare yourself for a title with a number after it.

After 'Ted' did over a half-billion dollars at the worldwide box office, it was just going to be a matter of how long it would take writer/director/star Seth MacFarlaneto put together the next installment of his foul-mouthed teddy bear adventures.

That first film was surprisingly well-received, concealing a not-inconsiderable charm beneath its crass exterior. Alas, the sequel fails to live up, doubling-down on profanity and scatology while sacrificing much of the goofy heart that elevated the original.

'Ted 2' begins with the wedding of the titular Ted (MacFarlane) to his girlfriend Tami-Lynn (Jessica Barth, 'Ted'). It's a time of celebration, but Ted's buddy John (Mark Wahlberg, 'Entourage') is struggling to get over his divorce.

A year later, Ted and Tami-Lynn are struggling they're fighting all the time and living generally unhappy lives. And so, to fix their failing marriage, they decide to have a child. They go on the hunt for sperm donors first asking their old friend Sam 'Flash Gordon' Jones, then attempting to steal the vital essence of New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady.

When those plans fall through, Ted and Tami-Lynn look to adopt, but their filing of paperwork alerts the government that Ted has been operating as a person despite being a child's toy. His personhood is officially revoked, completely torpedoing his life. John and Ted decide to fight, enlisting the help of a rookie lawyer named Sam Jackson (Amanda Seyfried, 'While We're Young') to prove Ted's personhood in a court of law.

Plus, Donny (Giovanni Ribisi, 'Selma') reprises his creepy bearnapper character from the first film; he's got a whole subplot where he's going to kidnap Ted after the court rules against him and turn him over to Hasbro in an effort to manufacture millions of Teds.

It all makes about as much sense as you'd expect even more than in the first film, the plot of 'Ted 2' exists primarily as a framework on which MacFarlanecan hang his assortment of poop-and-pot jokes.

Mark Wahlberg has shown himself capable of being pretty funny when he lets himself go; he's clearly having a good time here, though he is handcuffed a bit by the utter lack of subtlety. Seyfried has some fun as the wide-eyed stoner lawyer/love interest and handles what bits the script gives her reasonably well. Barth is adequate, though you can never shake the sense that she's only here because MacFarlaneowes someone a favor.

And then there's the bear himself. There's a safety in facelessness that MacFarlaneclearly embraces, and with good reason he can get away with a lot when it's a teddy bear talking. He's a gifted voice actor, so there's never any trouble buying Ted as a real presence.

Unfortunately, just because he feels real doesn't mean he says anything that matters.

And that's the thing the jokes come fast and furious. Just through sheer volume, some of the bits land, but not nearly as often or as hard as you might hope. It's the sort of movie that strives both to be edgy and to wink at its own edginess. The end result is a lot of humor that rings hollow; the outline of funny is there, but the substance is lacking.

Honestly, it's pretty simple if you like what McFarlane brings to the table, you will enjoy yourself with this movie. If you don't, you've likely already decided you aren't going to see it anyway. If you're one of the relative few in the middle, well this one's not as good as 'Ted,' but it's a hell of a lot better than the tire fire that was 'A Million Ways to Die in the West.'

[1.5 popcorns]

Last modified on Tuesday, 30 June 2015 21:39

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