There are some enjoyable cameos to be seen but Ted 2 is let down by a muddled script, poor direction and lazy joke writing.
The first Ted may not have been the most original comedy film but its excellent writing and constant stream of jokes made it great fun and a massive box-office hit. However, the second outing of Mark Wahlberg’s John and his talking teddy bear is certainly not as enjoyable.
From the first few minutes it is clear that Seth MacFarlane is not sure exactly what he wants to do with the plot. The Patrick Stewart narrated opening was one of the most memorable moments of the first film but Ted 2 begins with a three minute dance number with Ted at the centre of it. Unlike the awkward asides in MacFarlane’s Family Guy, this scene is not played for laughs. It has no role in the setting up of the narrative and when it is over all you can think is: what was it for? Moments like this happen throughout the film and it feels like MacFarlane is including set pieces that he has never had a chance to direct before, whether they work or not.
This confused tone continues into Ted 2’s plot. It begins as a story of Ted’s quest for a sperm donor, quickly changing to a court room comedy about proving that Ted is a real person, before finally becoming a road movie as they travel to New York. The film does not commit to any of its story-lines, creating a film that does not flow smoothly at any point. The addition of Amanda Seyfried, one of the film’s few bright spots, about half way through improves things. Although she is clearly better than the material she is given, her character is far more likeable that the two leads and her blossoming relationship with Wahlberg’s character gives the film a coherent plot-line to follow. The film also pokes fun at groups in society and celebrity individuals throughout whilst prompting the audience to care about what happens to the two characters that deserve very little affection, Ted and John. Ted worked because viewers were never asked to want the best for the leads; they were only required to enjoy their drug-fuelled antics and the on-screen bromance. The same cannot be said of Ted 2.
However, the main issue with Ted 2 is how funny it is, or not, as the case may be. It is not that there is a lack of jokes, it is that very few of them work in the way they did in the first film. Seth MacFarlane has taken every opportunity to include a joke about drugs or homosexuals and they get tedious after a while – it is frankly lazy comedy writing. The image of a teddy bear smoking with his adult owner loses its novelty quickly, especially when it is no different to what audiences saw in the first film.
Ted 2 does have its moments though. Cameos from famous faces such as Liam Neeson and American Football star Tom Brady are the highlights that are refreshingly different to the barrage of crude sight-gags.
In short, if Seth MacFarlane had stuck with what made the first Ted film successful, Ted 2 may have been an enjoyable comedy sequel. Unfortunately, a muddled script, poor direction and lazy joke writing makes Ted 2 a dissapointing second big-screen appearance for the talking teddy bear.
Ted 2 (2015), directed by Seth MacFarlane, is distributed in the UK by Universal Pictures, Certificate 15.