“This is a nightmare.”
The main conflict in Ted 2 is whether or not the foul-mouthed little bear is a person or property. Of course he’s a person. He’s conscious, aware, capable of emotion. Ted is, at his most basic level, the same as the lion or the tin man or the scarecrow from The Wizard of Oz. There is more to him than meets the eye. Such is not the case with Ted 2, one of the worst comedies so far in 2015, a doctrine of crude humor partnered with a palpable obsession with race and homosexuality. It’s a comedy…it’s meant to be funny, and parts of it really are laugh out loud hilarious, but that doesn’t excuse the disturbing ideologies the creators of the film seem to secretly hold sacred. Ted 2 made me feel bad for occasionally laughing, because a movie this awful does not deserve it.
We start 6 months after the events of the last film. Ted (voiced by Seth MacFarlane) gets hitched to the love of his life Tami-Lynn (Jessica Barth). Life is good with his gum-chomping wife. But flash forward one year and the honeymoon phase is over. In one of the rare amusing scenes, the two banter over money in their squatter of an apartment a la Stanley and Stella from A Streetcar Named Desire. It’s a funny bit. Ted’s remedy to the situation is both simple, and by his physically non-gendered nature, complicated. They’ll have a baby. What could possibly go wrong?
After previous documents are overlooked, Ted’s personhood comes into question, and the result is his life falling apart. One of my main complaints with the story is that the characters in the movie don’t know if Ted is a person either. The way they interact with and treat him is inconsistent. His thunder buddy John (Mark Wahlberg) is the only one to treat him as an equal (maybe because he’s equally stupid), and even their relationship is problematic. Ted 2 has plenty of pop culture references and absurdist gags that are highly detailed and thought out, yet the story itself is not. This is not a movie. MacFarlane, with his stable of writers from Family Guy, did not pen a film script. They do TV, and as a result the film is one long, scattershot, poorly edited story that misses nearly every beat and fails to justify its 2 hour running length.
Ted 2 is sorely missing Ted and his baked-out best bud John. It’s funny to watch a pathetic “grown man” shoot the shit on the couch with his childhood toy. Their rapid-fire and witty conversations, while often too mean for their own good, provide laughs. Here though, all of that is lost. MacFarlane tries to make a statement with a teddy bear and a stoner. He’s vocal about race, politics, and the overall nature of our country. And he’s not a filmmaker. None of his feature films show a directorial eye. The man is a satirist of the highest degree. Also, MacFarlane is relentlessly hateful. Their is a big difference between being mean and being hateful. MacFarlane’s body of work shows loathing and disdain, whereas, say Mel Brooks for example, was downright mean. But that icon tried to remain respectful. MacFarlane respects his own obvious cleverness and disregards everyone else. The man can make you laugh, and I imagine he can just as easily make you feel worthless.
There is a lone bright spot here in Amanda Seyfried. She’s the newbie defense attorney trying to save Ted’s neck, and Seyfried somehow pulls off a bong-ripping lawyer. The actress just has boundless talent, whereas the movie itself does not. We get the same lazy antagonist as before in Donny (Giovanni Ribisi), a creepy-eyed janitor infatuated with Ted. Ted 2 is remarkable in its laziness. The ending is the same with the roles reversed. The characters get high and drunk. Flash Gordon makes an appearance. Nothing here is new. This tasteless film is the epitome of scraping the bottom of the barrel.
Earlier I mentioned the utter bigotry and vitriolic derision laced throughout Ted 2. We get a joke about Jay Leno having gay sex in a bathroom. An African-American woman talking about some happy “White Niggas” shopping. John doused in the rejected semen of black men. The ease in stumbling upon “black cocks” in a search engine. Ted comparing himself to the main character in Roots. Ted 2 has a problem with race. Then we get a gay couple, two macho men, who are cruel to be cruel. Their homosexuality is not a part of their character; it’s a part of Ted 2’s twisted attempt to acknowledge their presence while simultaneously shaming them. MacFarlane tries to revere the butts of his jokes by giving them a pedestal, but he never lets them stand on it. Instead it’s him and his own genius, and like the film’s terrible opening credits sequence, showing Ted doing a dance number, you can’t help but feel that failed Oscar host MacFarlane tries to live through this little bear. It’s juvenile, and if that’s the case, then so is he. Lastly, read this eloquent review by Wesley Morris. It shows the purpose of film criticism as a medium of sharing art, both good and bad, and helps to explain my shared hate for the film.
“The public don’t judge by reason.”
Rating: 1 out of 5