Structuring a film is a fine art. Do it right, and no one will notice your flow. Do it wrong, though, and it’s the first thing viewers complain about. Action films can sometimes make up for shoddy plotting with a bombastic conclusion. Once comedies run out of steam and stop providing laughs, however, then it’s extremely hard to regenerate momentum.
Ted 2 starts off at such a break-neck speed that you can't help but be immediately overjoyed to be reunited with Mark Wahlberg’s John Bennett and Seth MacFarlane’s adorably foul-mouthed titular bear. But this doesn't last. And Ted 2 ultimetely fizzles out, and all but wrecks the good work of its impressive opening.
However, there’s one saving grace that means Ted 2 never fully topples into the turgid sequel territory: and that’s its leading duo of Wahlberg and MacFarlane. Their infectious camaraderie permeates Ted 2 to such an enjoyable extent that you immediately feel part of their gang. Whether that simply involves sipping drinks at a bar and accidentally looking up male appendages on the internet; atching and singing along to the opening of Law & Order while stoned; or going to great lengths to destroy John Bennett’s contaminated computer, there’s an easiness to Wahlberg and MacFarlane’s relationship that’s heartfelt, warm and downright hilarious.
Ted 2 kicks off at the wedding of Ted (Seth MacFarlane) and Tami-Lynn McCafferty (Jessica Barth). Unfortunately, while his BFF is off moving on to the next stage of his life, Mark Wahlberg’s John Bennett is still struggling to get over the demise of his own relationship to Mila Kunis’ Lori Collins. But when Ted and Tami-Lynn decide to take their marriage to the next level with a baby, they’re stunned to learn that Ted is regarded as property rather than a human, and he must prove his civil rights in court.
Unfortunately, the introduction of Amanda Seyfried’s lawyer Sam Jackson and the heavy burden of the civil rights case interrupts John and Ted’s patter. And even though this was necessary to help move the plot along (and to introduce a new love interest for Bennett), the fun that Wahlberg and MacFarlane effortlessly generated in the early stages of Ted 2 dissipates when the duo become a trio.
That’s not to criticize Amanda Seyfried at all, though. Not only does she glow as Jackson but she’s also able to competently mix it up with Wahlberg and MacFarlane’s quips – especially during a chat about what the “F” in F. Scott Fitzgerald stands for. It’s just that the trio’s camaraderie doesn’t quite match the breeziness that occurred when it was Ted and John as a duo, and the film doesn’t create enough laughs from its courtroom premise to fully justify this plot.
Seth MacFarlane still deserves acclaim for mixing his ambitious and weighty storyline with a variety of high- and low-brow pop culture jokes, which includes a Busby Berkeley-inspired opening credit sequence that will leave you simply bedazzled. However, Ted 2 loses its free-spirited energy and pizzazz once it transitions into its court-room scenes, while the emergence of a villainous sub-plot for Giovanni Ribisi’s Donny and Hasbro feels shoe-horned in and rushed.
For the first hour, though, Ted 2 is just as delightfully irreverent, obnoxiously crude, yet still gloriously heartfelt, as its original. Perfectly pitched cameos – even Tom Brady is hilarious - genuinely laugh-out-loud one liners, and well-crafted scenes on the struggles of marriage and the perils of internet pornography compel, as does just hanging around with Ted and John.
It’s just a shame that Ted 2 can’t maintain this pace with the laughs and as engaging a plot as the original. That being said, if there is a Ted 3, I’d still be overjoyed to spend even more time with these characters. That’s saying something.
By Mike Reyes
By Mike Reyes
By Dirk Libbey