** ½ out of ****
I remember walking out of 2012’s Ted laughing. Still laughing as I drove home from the theater. In bed that night: still laughing. That was Seth MacFarlane’s feature debut, and the more he directs the more he forgets. Ted 2 is thin on all the best parts of the first one—the endless laid-back banter, the loose structure, the strong female character—and watered down with recycled jokes and lazy slapstick.
John Bennett’s (Mark Wahlberg) best friend—a foul-mouthed, pot-smoking teddy bear—is finally tying the furry knot with Tami-Lynn (Jessica Barth) one year from where Ted left off. When the couple decides to adopt, their search sparks a legal debate with unambiguous parallels to contemporary civil rights cases, and I’ll remind you that this film was released on the same day as the Obergefell vs. Hodges decision (I’m sure the justices all convened at the theater before finalizing their verdict.)
If you’re wondering where Wahlberg comes in, join the club. He’s honed his comedic timing for years and it has paid off in hits like The Other Guys and the first Ted. His presence in this one fuels some of the biggest laughs, like when all his Google searches redirect to the same unwanted page, but mostly he’s relegated to sidekick status while MacFarlane, voicing the CGI bear, tests the limits of his likeability. Then there’s Ted’s lawyer, played by a (merely) quirky Amanda Seyfried, who lacks the feistiness that Mila Kunis brought to the table.
MacFarlane has always been a polarizing figure, and I count myself among those who admire his no holds barred approach. It’s a credit to his talent that Ted 2 smacked me with more than a couple belly laughs. I just wish they hadn’t all been in the first thirty minutes.