Ted is back in the sequel to the massive comedy hit of 2012. That was a movie which pretty much relied on a single joke of a loud-mouthed cursing teddy bear for all of its laughs. Three years on, is that gag still funny?
Listen, I had a lot of fun with the first Ted, which somehow managed to transplant Seth MacFarlane’s over the top comedy stylings from the animated small screen to the silver screen. And Ted 2 is at its best when it’s hitting those familiar funny notes and indulging the writer/director/star’s most ridiculous asides.
So Ted is as foul-mouthed as ever and the scrapes he gets into with his buddy John are endlessly idiotic. It’s all aided by a very game Mark Wahlberg who goes out of his way to be the pun of most of the jokes, including a beautifully timed and absolutely disgusting one involving bodily fluids.
The gags come thick and fast and generally hit – mostly because its fun to see Ted being an asshole to everyone around him. MacFarlane sometimes drags the tone a little too deep into the gutter but there are moments of genius which thrillingly close to the bone. Like what happens when the pair visit a comedy improv night.
The first Ted was a bit of a mess when it came to the storytelling and the sequel mostly manages to keep its plot in line. There’s actually a fairly serious courtroom drama at the heard of Ted 2 which keeps a decent structure on things and manages to interrupt the flow of jokes for some long stretches.
That’s not a great idea in a comedy and it does kill the momentum at times. I get the overwhelming feeling sometimes that MacFarlane would actually enjoy making a much straighter picture. That’s also clear during the films trio of extended musical numbers which are mostly free of jokes and feel like the director trying desperately to fulfil his cinematic dreams.
The problem with these moments is that they don’t serve any real purpose in a comedy. Take the opening titles which are set to a nicely choreographed number on a stage which wouldn’t look out of place in a 50s era feature. But the long sequence killed my audience dead, without a single sight gag. It’s like an aside from Family Guy agonisingly drawn out.
The excessive plot does weigh the film down, there’s no reason for a flick like to be two hours long. But the cast mostly manages to remain engaging, especially the infectious energy of MacFarlane’s Ted. Some of the CG looks a little ropey in close-up but you will believe a bear can curse.
Wahlberg bears the brunt of the punchlines (and punches) and proves he has real comedic ability, though the constant references to how hot he is seem excessive. And Amanda Seyfried makes for a surprisingly strong female lead, able to keep up with the fast one liners and the subject of one of my favourite running gags. Think The Lord of the Rings…
The supporting folks are good too, including a returning Giovanni Ribisi (who feels a bit superfluous), Patrick Warburton and a couple of Star Trek faces. And there are cameos too from the likes of Sam Jones, Tom Brady and some great work from Liam Neeson. Be sure to stay til the very end of the credits too.
After the horrorshow of A Million Ways to Die in the West, I wasn’t expecting from Ted 2 but MacFarlane manages to at least equal the comedic highs of the first film and deliver plenty of solid moments. The plot is all a bit more serious than you might expect and the running time is excessive but there’s real comedy gold to be found and it should go down a treat with audiences.