Ted 2 Is Proof That Seth MacFarlane Needs a Reset

While attempting to have a child with his wife Tami-Lynn (Jessica Barth), talking teddy bear Ted (Seth MacFarlane) is told he’s not a person and, therefore, cannot legally be married to Tami-Lynn or have a child. With the help of best friend John (Mark Wahlberg), and lawyer Samantha Jackson (Amanda Seyfried), Ted takes his case to court to prove he’s more than just property.

Where to begin with this movie. It’s just…not funny. I didn’t expect it to recapture the charm and absurdity of the first Ted (because, hi, sequels rarely do that). But damn. It’s like they didn’t even try with this one. They practically copied and pasted the jokes from the first film, added more weed, threw in some bad race jokes, and packaged it for release. Don’t get me wrong—there are still funny moments that made me laugh (like the Jurassic Park parody). But overall, it just wasn’t funny. And I’m disappointed (which I was expecting anyway).

The problem is Seth MacFarlane has been phoning it in since about 2009 (with the exception of Ted), and it’s starting to affect his work. I noticed it around Season 8 of Family Guy when the jokes became less absurd (where MacFarlane’s talent truly is) and more topical try-hard. It was extremely obvious with The Cleveland Show. And it was basically smacking me in the face with A Million Ways to Die in the West. In the latter’s review, I wrote: “But MacFarlane, as of late, has been so far up his own ass that he isn’t able to write nearly as well as he used to.” Yeah, I’d say that sentiment remains true with Ted 2.

And honestly, Ted 2 shouldn’t have been made. There was no logical “next step” for the story because the story was never truly about Ted. He was nothing more than the comic relief and catalyst in John (Mark Wahlberg)’s life. The story was about growing up and how hard it is to leave your childhood behind, which is why it was so charming (like Toy Story 3). But that charm was lost when it became a half-assed satire for a talking teddy bear to establish personhood.

Personhood and civil rights are HUGE topics of debate, which means MacFarlane and the writers had plenty of opportunities to use comedy for what it was originally intended—revealing truths about life. Instead of making a point about the ridiculousness of the laws that are still used oppress women, the black community, and LGBTQ individuals today, they made Roots and sickle cell jokes. Like could you imagine how awesome this story would’ve been in the hands of Matt Stone and Trey Parker? If you can’t play the satire game well, then don’t play it all. Stick to the absurdity. This is your home, Seth.

Also, going back to the “next step” with the story problems, I get that Mila Kunis didn’t come back for the second film because of other commitments, which puts the writers in an awkward spot. After all, how do you work around the absence of a character who was integral to the story the first go-around? But did they really need to take the message from the first movie about John’s character finally growing up in order to be with Lori and just throw it out the window? That divorce plot point was basically the writers’ way of letting John return to being a douchey manchild for comedy (and thereby negating all of his character development). It’s such lazy bullshit, and somehow, it’s even lazier than just killing Lori. Or better yet…it’s lazier than admitting this sequel was a bad idea.

Overall, Ted 2 has its moments, but it lacks the charm and absurdity of the first film, thanks to careless writing. Seth MacFarlane has reached the point in his career where it’s very clear that he’s just going through the motions to make money, and it’s disappointing. You might as well just skip this one, or at least save it for Netflix.

Ted 2: C+

For my radio review of Ted 2 on “Pat & JT in the Morning,” visit this link (starts around the 23:18 mark).

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