It’s hard to say definitively what it takes to make a good sequel. At the very least, a good sequel should expand on the material of its original, whilst still staying true to the original’s nature. At its absolute best, it does both of these things while deepening its characters, following through on the original’s premise and genuinely surprising us. It will introduce new characters, new villains and experiment with genre/scenery in order to make it stand alone as its own movie. As a sequel, Ted 2 isn’t particularly bad, but it’s not particularly good. Likewise, as a movie, whilst Ted 2 is occasionally funny and does delve into important issues about ‘what makes a person a person’, it doesn’t really make for a great movie either.
Ted 2 reunites us with our favourite Boston-accented foul-mouthed teddy bear Ted (Seth MacFarlane) and his lifelong ‘thunder buddy’ John Bennet (Mark Wahlberg) as Ted prepares to marry his girlfriend Tami-Lynn (Jessica Barth). Unsurprisingly, married life isn’t everything Ted thought it would be, so in order to save their relationship Ted and Tami-Lynn decide to adopt a baby, until they encounter one very big problem ““ in the eyes of the law Ted isn’t a person. So, Ted and John embark on another buddy-adventure with the help of pretty and well-named attorney Sam L. Jackson (Amanda Seyfried) to prove that Ted has everything it takes to be considered human.
Co-writer and director of the original Seth MacFarlane returns in triple-threat capacity here, alongside screenplay writers Alec Sulkin and Wellesley Wild, to bring his sequel back to life. Unlike last time however, there is a big dose of heart missing from this one. Undoubtedly, one of the biggest strengths of the original was the bromance between Ted and John, best friends and ‘thunder buddies’ for life. In particular, it was Wahlberg whose surprisingly apt comic timing and ability to play perfectly off the CGI Ted that made the film so funny. This time around, Wahlberg has far less to do, much to the movie’s detriment. Now divorced, lonely and a real downer, he is nothing but Ted’s sidekick in his crazy adventures (like the one they embark on in their quest for a sperm donor).
Whilst these gags sometimes get the laughs they are obviously playing for, thematically they often have no real place in the story. Therefore, more often than not, Ted 2 leaves us with a story that is a tad underwhelming and somewhat of a rip off of its much better original. The movie is awash with that trademark MacFarlane scattershot comedy that we have come to expect, including celebrity cameos, jizz jokes, celebrity name drops, the occasional spoof and, of course, a song and dance number right in the opening credits. As usual with the MacFarlane style, your appreciation of the jokes will depend on your tolerance for such frequent attempts to shock or offend. In this reviewer’s case, it appeared my tolerance was somewhat reduced compare to my love for the original material, mainly because of how cheap some of the jokes were.
In saying that, not all of Ted 2 is bad. The movie makes excellent use of new addition Morgan Freeman in role as a civil rights lawyer and Liam Neeson in a hilarious cameo as a grocery shopper suitably perplexed about Trix cereal. Likewise, MacFarlane’s voice work is inspired and the visual effects that have transformed his motion capture performance into the lovable fuzzy bear are seamless. Also, in the little screen time they do share together, Wahlberg and MacFarlane reaffirm the infectiously childish chemistry that made us enjoy the first one and keep us going in the sequel. Sadly, these moments of genuine humour are just too few and far between the immeasurable number of race and weed jokes detracting from what could have potentially been a really great sequel.
It seems like a bit of a cheap shot to say that Ted 2 is a lazy film, when that’s exactly the kind of cheap shot that Ted 2 would take, but that’s essentially what it is. It’s a little stale and a little uninspired, retreading the same ground its predecessor covered, but without the same level of heart or finesse. Ultimately, Ted 2 feels like the poor, somewhat related, second cousin of the original Ted you have seen before. Sure, you laugh from time to time, but the plodding direction of the very thin narrative that holds Ted 2‘s never-ending series of gags leaves you wishing your Thunder Buddies had just left at the original.
THE REEL SCORE: 5/10