Friday, July 3, 2015
FILM REVIEW OF ''TED 2" (2015)
The last thing Hollywood wants to do is either insult or offend individuals, groups, races, religions, causes, genders, and ideologies with their films. The refreshing thing about the hilarious teddy bear satire “Ted” and its unapologetic sequel “Ted 2” is that neither have any such compunctions. Seth MacFarlane, who co-scripted, directed, and provided the voice of the titular teddy bear with a potty mouth, spends most of the 115 minutes of “Ted 2” (***1/2 OUT OF ****) saying and showing subject matter that most respectable people would think twice about before either saying or showing. Like its iconoclastic predecessor, “Ted 2” bears an R-rating for what the Motion Picture Association of America considers “crude and sexual content, pervasive language, and some drug use.” The audaciously subversive humor either will make you cringe in horrific revulsion or howl in gleeful elation. If you enjoyed “Ted” with its cretinous heroes, beyond borderline gross out humor, wanton drug abuse, and impertinent profanity, you’ll love this high-brow sequel. The worst thing you can say about “Ted 2” is that it is pretentious from fade-in to fade out. Clearly, MacFarlane and “Family Guy” co-scribes Alec Sulken and Wellesley Wild sought to overshadow the lowbrow original, and they have triumphed in this respect. The elaborate song & dance choreography that opens “Ted 2” after our eponymous protagonist ties the knot with his goofy girlfriend has guys and gals cavorting around a gigantic wedding cake and stomping about on a huge dance floor with diminutive Ted keeping up with them. This is the last thing that you’d ever imagine seeing in a movie about a profane bear and his idiotic friend. If you haven’t seen “Ted,” then you probably won’t understand half of the hilarity. During a thunderstorm, young John Bennett clutched his Hasbro teddy and made a wish that it would come to life, and it did! Consequently, they became “thunder buddies for life.”
Virtually everybody from “Ted” reprises their roles in “Ted 2,” except Mila Kunis. According to the Internet Movie Database, Kunis didn’t return as Lori because she was pregnant during the production with Ashton Kutcher’s baby. Meantime, MacFarlane and his co-scribes explain that John Bennett (Mark Wahlberg of “Contraband”) and she divorced for six months before the outset of the action. A dejected John is petrified of getting himself involved in another relationship and his life has spiraled out of control. Meantime, Ted and Tami-Lynn (Jessica Barth of “Next”) marry, but their marriage has degenerated into a disaster. They argue about finances, throw things, and Ted cusses out their neighbors. At the supermarket where Ted works as a cashier, an obese African-American cashier advises him that the best way to restore a marriage is to have a baby. The cashier’s comments are incredibly racist in a reverse sort of way. Indeed, those comments are so rude that they cannot be repeated. Tami-Lynn breaks her angry vow of silence with Ted after he tells her that they must have a baby, and they celebrate their momentous decision.
Sadly, neither are prepared for the obstacle course of trials and tribulations that ensue. Since the toy company Hasbro didn’t endow Ted with sex organs, our hero must search for the ideal sperm donor. They approach Flash (Sam J. Jones), but he complains about his low sperm count. John suggests Patriots’ quarterback Tom Brady. Now, things get really bizarre. John and Ted sabotage Brady’s air conditioner so he has to sleep with his bedroom balcony windows open. These two nitwits set out to obtain a sperm sample from Brady while he is asleep! Ted decks himself out like a seafaring fisherman for the occasion, and John is appalled to learn that he must masturbate Brady. Fortunately, for everybody involved, Brady awakens in time and throws them out. Johnny offers to help Ted, and they enter a fertility clinic. A comedy of errors occurs while they are at the clinic. Accidentally, John tips over a storage bin of sperm samples and winds up sloshed in sperm. Nevertheless, everything goes awry when Tammy-Lynn’s physician (Dennis Haysbert of the "Allstate" commercials) informs her that she devastated her reproductive system abusing narcotics. Ultimately, Ted learns the State of Massachusetts no longer recognizes his status as a person so they cannot adopt a child. Furthermore, the court has invalidated their marriage. Ted and John seek legal representation. The best they can afford is 26-year old Samantha Leslie Jackson (Amanda Seyfried of “Les Misérables”), a freshman attorney who smokes a bong to counteract the ill effects of migraines. Predictably, since Ted and John are still getting wasted, several scenes of euphoric pot-smoking ensue, with our heroes and heroine smoking in public places, too. The funny thing about Samantha Leslie Jackson is that she is pop culture illiterate and doesn’t even realize the significance of the joke Ted makes when he observes that they have hired Samuel L. Jackson as their lawyer. MacFarlane gets a lot of mileage out of this joke as well as some of the exotic types of pot our heroes and heroine smoke. One running gag concerns a strain of marihuana that induces the fear of getting lost on the way home. In subsequent scenes, Ted and Samantha are shown leading a terrified John home because amnesia has set in as a consequence of smoking this ‘lost’ dope.
Just when everything appears to be working out favorably for our heroes, the villainous Donnie from “Ted” surfaces. Donnie (Giovanni Ribisi of “Public Enemies”) has gotten a job as a janitor now at Hasbro. He interrupts Hasbro executive Tom Jessup (John Carroll Lynch of “Zodiac”) during a hallway conference and tells him that he doesn’t flip the cakes in his urinal. Instead, he replaces them. Naturally, Jessup doesn’t know what to make of this sinister cretin. Later, Donnie has a moment with Jessup in Jessup’s office because Hasbro has an open-door policy with its employees. The news is out that Ted is going to court to determine what his status in society is. Donnie tells Jessup if the prosecution can prove that Ted is actually property rather than a person, they can abduct him with minor legal consequences, slice him open, and fathom what makes Ted so singular. Jessup’s eyes gleam at the prospect of eviscerating Ted so Hasbro can manufacture a new teddy that will sell millions. Of course, Jessup wants to exploit this opportunity, but he reminds Donnie that he cannot be implicated in this pseudo crime. Altogether, Jessup’s earlier opinion of Donnie has changed and he realizes that this nincompoop may be a genius. That Hasbro would allow themselves to participate in this irreverent farce is amazing considering the unfavorable shade of evil in which MacFarlane and company paints them.
Mind you, Ted the talking teddy still looks as adorable as he did in first film, especially when he dresses up in a suit and tie. You never get the impression that the cast was interacting with nothing when the CGI Ted was on-screen with them. While the front and center Ted dominates the action with his woes, Mark Wahlberg’s John stands out as his best friend. Until “Ted” and now again with “Ted 2,” Wahlberg has deviated rarely from playing a straight-up, conventional, role model, W.A.S.P. protagonist. As he did initially with “Ted,” Wahlberg appears to be poaching on Adam Sandler territory with some of his absurd antics. The splashy scene in the sperm facility and the looney episode in Tom Brady’s mansion make John the butt of the jokes, and Wahlberg displays no inhibitions to playing second banana to Ted while ridiculing himself in the process. The dialogue again qualifies as quotable material with politically incorrect meanings. Although the sight gags are amusing, particularly in the Comics convention scene, this above-average gross-out comedy serves up some pretty impudent shenanigans. Indeed, if vulgar humor poses no problems, “Ted 2” is right for you.