Ted 2 begins with walking, talking teddy bear Ted (voiced by Seth MacFarlane) getting married to Tami-Lynn (Jessica Barth). Their marriage turns out to be more of a struggle than they thought it would be, and they decide that the way to fix it is to have a kid. The two try to adopt, and subsequently learn that in the eyes of the law, Ted is technically not a person. Ted’s life quickly starts falling apart, and he has to go to court to prove his personhood. With the help of his best buddy John (Mark Wahlberg) and inexperienced attorney Sam (Amanda Seyfried), Ted tries to fight the system.
Of course, the plot isn’t nearly as important as creating the platform for the distinctive comedic voice of Seth MacFarlane. So though there are some fairly intriguing hooks in this narrative, it tends to give way to the non sequitur cutaway sensibilities of the director. In fact, the story’s climax ends up feeling like a tedious retread of what went on in the first movie, this sequel forcing a villain into what is otherwise a pretty straightforward plot of bear against government. The resolution to all this feels pretty underwhelming, and the film never really addresses the fact that getting a kid to resolve existing problems in a marriage is a terrible idea.
But the real problem with this plot is that it makes the movie about Ted. The real appeal of the first movie wasn’t the profane teddy bear of the title. It was always Mark Wahlberg, who exuded a strange sweetness at the center of the film that seemed to relish in trying to be edgy or politically incorrect. This sequel sidelines Wahlberg’s character and sticks him with a romantic plotline with a new character that doesn’t really seem much of a person, and is instead a collection of lame girlfriend fantasies. Apparently, a girl isn’t worth being with unless she’s willing to smoke pot with you.
Ted was to some extent about the need to grow up, the emotional arc based on the idea that one cannot exist in a constant state of arrested development. This sequel turns around a full 180 degrees, revealing that all of the accomplishments from the first film were futile and in the end ineffective. The characters are able to drop everything in their lives to go on a bunch of silly cutaway adventures where they get to act like kids. Does John even have a job anymore? The film abandons the values of the first film for the sake of its humor.
But of course, this is all just meant to serve MacFarlane’s special brand of humor. And if one is a fan of his work, then there’s still appeal in this film. Even so, however, the film will test the patience of its audience. It goes on for way too long, the director indulging in his fascinations a bit too much. There is a stretch in the film where everything pretty much stops for an acoustic sing-along. It is certainly of the MacFarlane brand, but it is something that probably should have been cut for time.
Ted 2 has laughs, but it may pay too high a price for them. It treads shaky territory in a plot that calls for comparisons to real civil rights struggles while relying heavily on racial humor. It runs about ten to fifteen minutes too long, with long stretches that don’t really contribute anything to both the narrative and the comedy. And in its search for jokes, it ends up regressing the characters to a point where the first movie doesn’t even matter anymore. One can’t discount the possibility of enjoying Ted 2, but it certainly doesn’t feel like growth for MacFarlane as an artist and a director.