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David Poland

By David Poland poland@moviecitynews.com

Review: Ted Again (Ted 2)

ted-review-topper

A basic rule about narrative art… the first thing with which an audience connects is the heart of what the material is about.

Casablanca is not just a movie about a guy who loves a woman enough to give her up a second time. But that’s the movie.

Batman movies are not just about a guy who lost his parents to violence but can’t do anything except keep fighting for what he sees as justice, never escaping his ghosts. But that’s what the movies are.

Titanic is certainly about more than a great doomed love that survives death, decades and the sinking of the unsinkable ship. But that’s what that movie is.

Ted was a sensational idea to which people could universally relate. What if the childhood toy you were obsessed with not only came to life, but continued to live past his cuteness, your cuteness, and to the point where he was keeping you from becoming an adult? Second layer… he’s a stoner, drunken horndog, which is against the expectations we all have of teddy bears. That second layer knocked a lot of people off the Ted wagon, but there were still tens of millions who were thrilled to go along for that ride.

So what is Ted 2 about?

Almost nothing. There is the pretense that it is about the civil right of Ted to not be considered property… but not really. Writer/Director/Ted-Voice Seth MacFarlane makes it clear that Ted 2 is mostly going to be a series of gags right up front. There is a non-sequitur, unrealistic gag that might work in the middle of the movie, but is right up there. Then Ted has a giant dance number combining Busby Berkeley-style choreography and the CG bear that expresses nothing but MacFarlane’s musical ambition and a bigger budget.

Meanwhile – not spoilers unless you consider the movie’s set-up to be such – Wahlberg’s John Bennett has split from his wife, the marriage to whom was the entire central story of the first film. Just gone. The weird, gross, funny sexual relationship with the dumb blonde cashier, Tami-Lynn (played by Jessica Barth) goes from being bored with one another to boringly married.

In other words, they got rid of the raunch and the sincerity, leaving nothing but jokes.

A few of the jokes are good. The idea of Tom Brady being treated like a horse gone to stud is funny. There’s a daring gag with Amanda Seyfried. Other laughs.

Bur empty calories. Nothing adds to anything. It is the embodiment, however occasionally laugh-out-loud funny, of bad sequelitis.

It finally struck me what might have actually been better, as recapturing a fresh idea in a sequel is really hard. Instead of making a movie about not having a baby… how about a movie about a character like Ted having a baby. Jerky stunted-adolescent guys have kids too… and in the end, if they have love in their hearts, they have to find a way to give it all to the kid(s). Bear, no bear… that is drama (that can be comedic).

But I don’t want to tell them what they should have done… just that what was done just isn’t about anything… not even the raw raunch of the original.

Not terrible. Not good.

6 Responses to “Review: Ted Again (Ted 2)”

  1. EtGuild2 says:

    Agree with this take…but can we talk about the strangest studio movie of 2015? MAX is so strange it’s practically indescribable. A doggie for kids flick that inserts the Taliban, rocket launchers, online piracy and gun trafficking.

  2. Ray Pride says:

    And “From The Director of A PRICE ABOVE RUBIES!”

  3. PcChongor says:

    I’ll take “Samurai Cat” over “PTSD Dog” any day of the week: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=a7k112vDJgk

  4. Stella's Boy says:

    And “From The Director of A PRICE ABOVE RUBIES!”

    Not to mention it was co-written by the director of Lionheart and Double Impact.

  5. Bulldog68 says:

    I laughed more than this than during Spy, the critically praised comedy this summer. Thought the cameos were good. Not as good as part 1 by any means, but I think that I enjoyed it a bit more than Dave.

    You could tell that they were running out of steam and needed to fill time but I can’t say it was a negative experience.

  6. Hcat says:

    After seeing Shatner interact with him at the oscars I can’t help but imagine that Sam Jones might have been the second choice if Shatner didn’t want to be portrayed as a raging coke maniac. The Unfortunate Ming joke in the original works just as well if not better as Khan.

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“Well, actually, of that whole group that I call the post-60s anti-authority auteurs, a lot of them came from television. Peckinpah’s the only one whose television work represents his feature work. I mean, like the only one. Mark Rydell can direct a really good episode of ‘Gunsmoke’ and Michael Ritchie can direct a really good episode of ‘The Big Valley,’ but they don’t necessarily look like The Candidate. But Peckinpah’s stuff, even the scripts he wrote that he didn’t even direct, have a Peckinpah feel – the way I think there’s a Corbucci West – suggest a Peckinpah West. That even in his random episodes that he wrote for ‘Gunsmoke’ – it’s right there.”
~ Quentin Tarantino

“The thought is interrupted by an odd interlude. We are speaking in the side room of Casita, a swish and fairly busy Italian bistro in Aoyama – a district of Tokyo usually so replete with celebrities that they spark minimal fuss. Kojima’s fame, however, exceeds normal limits and adoring staff have worked out who their guest is. He stops mid-sentence and points up towards the speakers, delighted. The soft jazz that had been playing discreetly across the restaurant’s dark, hardwood interior has suddenly been replaced with the theme music from some of Kojima’s hit games. Harry Gregson-Williams’ music is sublime in its context but ‘Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns of the Patriots’ is not, Kojima acknowledges, terribly restauranty. He pauses, adjusting a pair of large, blue-framed glasses of his own design, and returns to the way in which games have not only influenced films, but have also changed the way in which people watch them. “There are stories being told [in cinema] that my generation may find surprising but which the gamer generation doesn’t find weird at all,” he says.
~ Hideo Kojima