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such a nasty woman | by maryann johanson

Ted 2 movie review: Hasbro-mance

by MaryAnn Johanson

Ted 2 red light

Is the man who sang “We Saw Your Boobs” at the Oscars one to give us a touching story about civil rights and human dignity? Take a guess..
I’m “biast” (pro): loved the first movie…

I’m “biast” (con): …but it was a MacFarlane fluke

(what is this about? see my critic’s minifesto)

I admit it: Seth MacFarlane had me fooled. I thought he intended Ted as a sly commentary on extended male adolescence. That was certainly the way it played. But I was wrong. What I saw in Ted was accidental. Not deliberate. The proof is here in Ted 2, which obliterates everything that was smart and clever in the first film by actually negating it, as if it were entirely beside the point. Which I see now that it was.

Or else MacFarlane — writer (one of three credited), director, and voice of Ted — simply doesn’t care about the integrity of his creation in the face of an easy paycheck. I could easily believe either.

Mark Wahlberg’s (Entourage, The Gambler) John had been gently and compassionately pushed into adulthood, but now he has reverted back into juvenility, because that’s what happens when women break your heart. (The woman he married at the end of the first film has left him. Maybe she got tired of having to police his adulthood, but we’re not told the reason.) Ted the living, breathing, pot-smoking teddy bear has always lived in juvenility, but he is getting married to Tami-Lynn (Jessica Barth) as Ted 2 opens, which would appear to be a step toward adulthood. But not so much for this couple, you will be unsurprised to hear, who are instantly on the rocks and then deciding to have a baby to “fix” their relationship. (Pity this child.) Since the normal route to babymaking is not available to them, for obvious reasons, they decide to adopt. That the prospective parents work low-wage jobs in a grocery store isn’t a problem, it seems (adoption is an insanely expensive privilege they could never actually enjoy), but Ted’s status as a magically brought-to-life stuffed toy is. Apparently the Commonwealth of Massachusetts has suddenly realized that Ted is not human, and Ted has to go to court to prove his personhood.

Is the man who sang “We Saw Your Boobs” at the Oscars one to give us a touching story about civil rights and human dignity? Or will he attempt to make us laugh at the tale a racist, sexist, homophobic teddy bear not changing his bigoted attitudes one whit while appropriating the struggles of others for himself? I’ll give you one hint: Amanda Seyfried (While We’re Young, A Million Ways to Die in the West) as the lawyer who is working pro bono on their case is a way-cool chick who is unafraid to smoke pot in the office. You know, like all lawyers new to a firm and desperate to make a good impression do. (Seyfried does double duty as John’s new love interest. She’s even younger than the one who just left him, so maybe she’ll let him continue to wallow in adolescence?) In between all the many — many — random Family Guy-ish pop-culture references springing out of nowhere, there is talk of Plessy vs. Ferguson and Brown vs. Board of Education, and the two threads are not connected in any way at all: it would be an improvement if Christopher Lloyd showed up in a cameo to shout “Dred Scott!” Doc Brown-style. But this would be a cleverness beyond what MacFarlane has to offer.

Instead, we have a litany of grossouts, male terror of other men’s penises, slut-shaming, and MacFarlane’s (A Million Ways to Die in the West) directorial enjoyment of how setting up two-shots with the two-foot-tall Ted and a woman means he can get some disembodied female asses and legs on the screen in a way that just seems casual, like how else could he have framed it?

Worst of all, though, is the finale, which for reasons that don’t even make sense in a narrative as flimsy as this one, ends up at Comic-Con in New York. If there’s a rationale for this setting at all, it’s so that MacFarlane can bite the hand that feeds him and make fun of nerds. (It is beyond disappointing to see Patrick Warburton [Mr. Peabody & Sherman, Movie 43] and Michael Dorn [Star Trek: Nemesis, Santa Clause 2] participating in this.) The most fantastical notion in this entire movie is that there are day-of tickets available to walk up and purchase at New York Comic-Con. The biggest mystery is why MacFarlane would want to alienate the very people who have made him rich and famous. Unless he doesn’t want to have to make another Ted movie. The laziness of this one suggests he didn’t even want to make this one.

See also my #WhereAreTheWomen rating of Ted 2 for its representation of girls and women.

red light 1 star

Ted 2 (2015)
US/Canada release date: Jun 26 2015 | UK release date: Jul 08 2015

MPAA: rated R for crude and sexual content, pervasive language, and some drug use
BBFC: rated 15 (strong language, sex references, drug use)

viewed at a private screening with an audience of critics

official site | IMDb
more reviews: Movie Review Query Engine | Rotten Tomatoes

If you’re tempted to post a comment that resembles anything on the film review comment bingo card, you might want to reconsider.

  • Patlandness

    I think the only thing of genuine quality that Seth MacFarlane has ever been tied to when it’s all said and done is “American Dad!”. I’m not joking that show was actually pretty clever and funny (and no cutaways). (I say “was” because of what it devolved into on TBS).

    As for “Ted 2”– I have no desire to see it.

  • Bluejay

    I think the only thing of genuine quality that Seth MacFarlane has ever been tied to when it’s all said and done is “American Dad!”.

    There’s also Cosmos.

  • Patlandness

    I stand corrected. “Cosmos” and “American Dad!”

  • I didn’t like the first one at all, so certainly didn’t expect much out of part 2. I’m still surprised you liked the first one.

  • Shiraz

    Wow. The girlfriends get younger and younger. The dudes get older and older.

  • Beowulf

    I try not to look at other guys’ junk in toilets, but the odd glimpse has never driven me mad with either fear or lust. Big deal…er, or not. (Since Americans can carry concealed guns everywhere, would a good defense be “I had to shoot him officer–I saw his penis and it looked like it was coming after me”?)

  • Always.

  • bjm51388

    Ms. Johanson,

    Please do everyone a favor and in the future, do not waste your time (and ours) critiquing Seth MacFarlane’s work. With all due respect, your review is full of ignorance and all it displays is your lack of understanding of modern-day satire. It’s also quite clear that you have complete lack of familiarity with MarFarlane’s background and career. To say that he either didn’t care about integrity of his characters or that he just wanted an easy paycheck is like me saying you probably didn’t even graduate college. It is an irresponsible suggestion rooted in resentment just because you didn’t find his or her work entertaining or worth your time.
    For your information, MacFarlane is very bright and actually is a strong advocate for equal rights. He enjoys comedy though, cartoons and other things of that nature particularly (i.e. Ted). If you’ve ever seen his smash hit Family Guy, you would realize that he has a unique skill of integrating real world issues into a silly cartoon and that’s all Ted is doing. Hey, aren’t
    people always wondering how to reach the youth of America? Seth figured
    it out. Now if you just don’t think it’s that funny, that’s fine, but based on what you wrote, I don’t think that’s the case

  • Thanks for your input, Mr. MacFarlane.

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