Monday, August 3, 2015

Movie Review: Ted 2

Sequels are always a daunting task in the world of motion pictures, lest a potential franchise become victim to the dreaded sophomore jinx phenomenon. A sequel has the difficult task of building on an established world and the characters that inhabit them. Usually for a film to even have a chance at making a sequel it means that the first film did it's job well and become moderately popular at the very least.

Ted 2 is definitely one of those films that you can see being a hit or a bust, based on the original films interesting premise of a talking teddy bear that comes alive. Although that kind of magical tale of toys come to life might have been in our heads since we were kids, when mixed in with the sometimes brilliant and slightly over the top comedy writing of Seth MacFarlane, it became something more.

The man behind the bear is very important to this review and understanding this film because his signature is all over the place like spilled semen on a sperm bank floor (that will probably make more sense later). If you have seen MacFarlane's Family Guy and American Dad, you know what your in store for.

This is not a bad thing most of the time by any means.

From the musical number accompanying the opening credits sequence to the quick hitting visual punchlines, this movie oozes Macfarlene's comedy style. Sometimes, like in a early scene concerning the contents of Johnny's (Mark Wahlberg) laptop computer, it is enough to make you laugh out loud at his mastery at well written comedy dialogue.

In others it feels slightly out of place, especially as said if you are familiar with MacFarlane's TV creations over the last decade plus. Case in point is another sequence really on where a guy high on cocaine leaps through a window during a party, which is really more jarring then funny.

At times it feels out of place with the tone of the rest of the film as far as suspending disbelief goes. What I mean is that in my opinion theses jokes might have felt right at home in a parody film such as Airplane! Or the Naked Gun series, but for me their placement in this film just reminded me of how silly the basic plot ideas are.

As MacFarlene (much to my delight) has always seemed to enjoy the 'occasional' Star Wars reference, I'll make one here. Most of the 'cutaway' jokes in Ted 2 were excellent but some took me out the moment as much as George Lucas placing Jabba the Hutt in A New Hope.

Still, it is that same sense of nostalgia and parody that lead to a scene that paid both homage to eighties comedies Revenge of the Nerds via the song choice, Planes, Trains and Automobiles via a take on an iconic scene and The Breakfast Club via some well recognized dance moves (including the pot smoking in a public library where no one notices..what branch is this anyway).

This constant stream of nostalgia based fare does impress upon me what I do like about both Ted films and it is the fact that despite the assault of sometimes down and dirty jokes, they are actually funny because behind that there still is a plot, served up in that delicious guilty pleasure style that people like John Hughes became a master at creating.

It's bubble gum to be sure, but the flavor lasts a long time and you are dragged laughing into a plot that even has a bit of a message while you blow some bubbles.

The main thrust of this plot is that Ted has been deemed not to be a sentient being but is instead an object or manufactured possession. This does allow the film to try and take on some serious subject matter (and take a jab at Fox News, which is always a good thing) and although none of you reading this who have yet to see the film should be armed with a box of tissues unless you have a cold, it does give depth to the film.

Pacing of that plot is done well and all points are satisfied by the end of the last scene quite nicely. The only major thing I can gripe about in this area is the the film does seem to run just a little bit too long in total, but that is a small complaint.

Cameos abound in this film and some work well and some feel tacked on, again perhaps slightly taking you out of the film's main story with Family guy style cutaways. However, if you ever wanted to see Captain Kirk battle Captain Picard at Comic-Con or see a joke involving Jay Leno and sexual acts in a public bathroom, this is the film for you.
Besides, there is a DALEK in it...nuff said! 

When it is all said and done Ted 2 will never be the cult classic I can one day seeing the first film becoming but as far as comedy sequels go, it does hit most of the marks.

- Thomas Spychalski

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