Review: 'Ted 2' Gets Lost in the History of Real, American Change
by Jeremy Kirk
June 29, 2015
I struggled putting together a satisfactory, opening paragraph about Ted 2. Struggled. Usually if that's the case, it means the rest of the review will be a nice run through a mud-field of narrative connections and sludgy adjectives… like "sludgy." Unfortunately there was really nothing to say about the follow-up to Seth MacFarlane's surprise hit that hadn't already been said about A Million Ways To Die In the West or the back-half years of "The Family Guy." MacFarlane has a very specific sense of humor, and the ridiculous, pop culture references and violent lunacy that make up 13 seasons – and two features so far – can only pull laughs from the audience for so long.
Thus begins the path down casting a critical eye towards MacFarlane's latest effort. Ted 2 is far from a horrible film, even further from being a horrible comedy. The jokes lands with a slight higher accuracy than what MacFarlane usually delivers, slightly lower than the original Ted. The sequel doesn't have nearly the same heart as its predecessor, probably the biggest shortcoming that falls on it. Returning star Mark Wahlberg has little to do here besides react comically to his talking teddy bear's antics. MacFarlane, once again providing the talking, vulgar, stuffed animal his voice, does what he can to make the character feel right at home alongside all the "Family Guy" characters with which he voices.
The biggest problem with reviewing a film like Ted 2 is that there's very little on which to comment in either the pro or con categories. The film is precisely what you would expect, no less and certainly no more. Its place in the ocean of cinematic comedies is sure to barely register a ripple, and, as my Thursday night, when I viewed the film, turned into Friday morning, when I began writing my review for it, the connection of words to form a full-fledged critique on the film began to escape me. There was just no place for Ted 2 in the world and absolutely nothing worthwhile to say about it.
Then, as Friday morning carried on, the events of world began to change things. The Supreme Court of the United States announced a decision to lift all bans on same-sex marriage by declaring it unconstitutional, once and for all. Something so many were fighting for was finally not only within their grasp, it was being handed to them, and the word of the morning across the nation was "acceptance."
At about 9AM, Twitter exploded. George Takei said it best in his first RT of the morning: a cartoon image of a black-and-white character getting bathed in the beam of rainbow-colored light shooting out of his monitor. Ian McKellen and Derek Jacobi threw glitter over each other's gleeful heads in celebration, cute party hats included. It's only so fitting that the Professor to McKellen's Magneto, Patrick Stewart, narrates Ted 2, and even brings us into this story with a casual "America doesn't give a shit about anything."
Sure, that was Stewart reading a line MacFarlane wrote, and, as the events of Friday morning continued on, the statement became less and less true, while the importance of Ted 2's overall message became more and more important.
As many of you may already know, Ted 2 is about the cuddly, stuffed bear fighting the supreme court for his own rights to be recognized. In order to fulfill his wish of a family with Tami-Lynn, played once again by Jessica Barth, and get the chance to adopt a baby, Ted must prove his place in the world. He wants to be accepted, and not even the laws of the land are going to stop him.
I'm not naive enough to think MacFarlane planned the release of his film – something even he doesn't have control over – with the events of Friday morning – something even he couldn't have predicted. Yet, seeing Ted 2 and experiencing the rush of joy that came from the choice made Friday morning, one cannot deny the parallels and the importance that one could hold over the other.
With a little more heart and a genuinely compelling story, something MacFarlane actually pulled off with the first Ted, Ted 2 could have joined hand-in-hand with the masses. The decision SCOTUS made could have been used to help support the story the film was trying to get through. Unfortunately, the events of Friday morning are to be remembered solely for their importance on each and every life that they touched. Ted 2, on the other hand, barely touches anything. Let's forget it, once and for all.