Movie review: ‘Ted 2’
Directed By Seth MacFarlane
Starring Mark Wahlberg, Seth MacFarlane (voice of Ted), Amanda Seyfried, Giovanni Ribisi, Jessica Barth, John Slattery, Morgan Freeman
Rated R, Comedy, 115 minutes
As I watched “Ted 2” a recurring question kept popping to mind — just who is this film’s audience? Many think director Seth MacFarlane is commenting on racial issues, but after viewing the film, I believe he’s obsessed with male inferiority complex. He wants to appear as though he’s concerned about who deserves civil rights and why. The question in this film is whether anyone is entitled to marry anyone, or anything.
Co-written and directed by MacFarlane, of animated TV show fame (“Family Guy,” Cleveland,” etc…), this newest film is a tone-deaf comedy. After animating a plush, toy teddy bear into a walking, talking entity (voiced by MacFarlane) with supposed human emotions, MacFarlane turns his stuffed miracle into a foulmouthed party boy.
In 2012, “Ted” introduced the plushy bear’s fixations on beer, marijuana and hot babes. The bear hurled an assortment of insults at American culture and was rewarded with a half billion dollars in worldwide box office sales (mainly overseas where it is after all, popular to hate America).
The second film’s barrage of distasteful jokes frequently focuses on the presumed Caucasian male’s obsession with black men’s privates. Ted’s human friend John (Mark Wahlberg); now divorced and scared of real, live women; is one such white man. John quietly collects examples of his feelings of inferiority via thousands of photographs of black male appendages kept on his laptop computer.
Ted, now married to his grocery-store-cashier co-worker, Tami-Lynn (Jessica Barth), decides a baby is necessary to keep his marriage strong. But, since Ted lacks the equipment needed to make a baby, he and John attempt to steal Tom Brady’s sperm. When that fails, John volunteers to donate sperm at a local fertility clinic for use in impregnating Tami-Lynn. While showing off his cup of “life,” John tips over a rack of donations rejected because the givers have sickle-cell anemia. Splattered from head to toe, John squirms as Ted observes, “You’re covered in rejected black guys’ sperm. You’re like a Kardashian.”
A few of the film’s ideas fall flat in execution. For entertainment, John and Ted show up at an improv club where they hurl “sad suggestions” at the perplexed performers. This might have been funny if the topics they offered weren’t 9/11, Robin Williams and Charlie Hebdo.
As if to make up for its crass racial suggestions, MacFarlane casts Morgan Freeman as the nation’s top civil rights attorney. Ted needs an attorney to take his case pro bono because the Commonwealth of Massachusetts declares he is legally property and can neither hold a job, nor adopt a child. The film hits one sweet spot when Freeman’s lawyer rejects the case on the grounds that Ted is morally corrupt.
It isn’t the film’s topics that cause concern as much as the comedy’s failure to make us think about these issues and to laugh at ourselves. While comedy has traditionally been a safe refuge for taboo topics, once a film (even one starring a teddy bear) takes these on, it ought to expand upon, rather than detract from, the conversation. I could not grin and “bear” it.
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