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02 Jul 2015

Overstuffed: Despite Numerous Laughs, 'Ted 2' Is Undone by Lame Courtroom Scenes

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Jessica Barth and Ted (voiced by Seth MacFarlane) in Ted 2. Jessica Barth and Ted (voiced by Seth MacFarlane) in Ted 2.

Somebody needs to take Seth MacFarlane aside and tell him to calm his ass down. He’s still funny, but he’s getting egregiously carried away in his movies—to the point where he is wrecking them.

The original Ted was the oddest of charmers: It starred a profane teddy bear saying some of the most disgusting stuff ever said in a mainstream movie, and Mark Wahlberg in dumb-puppy-dog mode. It proved to be a winning success.

Then came last year’s A Million Ways to Die in the West, MacFarlane’s bid to become the next Mel Brooks. Some great jokes were buried in a movie in which he miscast himself in the main role, and went far overboard with the running time and production values.

Now, with $20 million extra to spend over the original Ted, director MacFarlane has gone crazy again, with a 115-minute movie that feels five hours long. It’s way overstuffed and often ill-conceived, including a worthless, old-Hollywood dance number that plays during the opening credits. There are no laughs here—just Ted dancing with a bunch of glitzy dancers while eating up a lot of budget money.

Ted, in a bid to be recognized as human, winds up in a courtroom. MacFarlane actually compares Ted’s plight to slaves and Dred Scott. I’m not wild about courtroom movies, and this movie does courtrooms badly—just as badly as in that movie that came out last year featuring Robert Duvall shitting himself.

Another subplot involves Ted trying to have a baby with his new wife, Tami-Lynn (Jessica Barth). This part of the film is far more successful, with Ted and “thunder buddy” John (Wahlberg) trying to get sperm out of Tom Brady while he sleeps. A sperm-clinic visit that winds up with John suffering through the worst bukkake scene ever is, surprisingly, also good for some laughs.

There are actually a lot of good laughs in this movie. A running gag involving candy dishes had me laughing out loud, and celebrity cameos involving a box of Trix and bathroom sex did the same. God bless Amanda Seyfried as Ted’s stoned lawyer (replacing Mila Kunis as the female lead), who isn’t afraid to take on a barrage of Gollum eye comparisons.

As funny as the film can be at times, it torpedoes itself with the running time and courtroom scenes. MacFarlane falls victim to that need to make a sequel bigger and grander than the original. A simpler film that relied more on the gags and less on bullshit sentimentality would’ve been just fine. There’s no need for 75 percent of this movie to exist.

I love the character Wahlberg has created for these movies. John is mean-spirited dimwit who gets away with being terrible by acting sheepish and innocent. Wahlberg is gifted with some major comic timing, and the vast majority of his gags hit the bull’s-eye.

MacFarlane is a great counterpart as the voice of Ted. The best scenes in this film are the simpler ones, including a classic fight between Ted and Tami-Lynn in their tenement apartment. It makes you wish the film had simply focused on Ted’s domestic troubles and pot-smoking, rather than trying to make a grand statement about the plight of teddy bears as property/pets.

MacFarlane needs to step back, realize his strengths, and try to be something other than Mel Brooks. Brooks became unfunny at some point, seemingly overnight, and I fear the same could happen to MacFarlane if he doesn’t scale back. It’s indie-film time.

Wahlberg, Seyfried and MacFarlane make for a funny trio. Too bad that funny trio is stuck in a film that’s too big for its britches. Dred Scott? Really?

Ted 2 is playing at theaters across the valley.

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