|UK Release Date||8th July 2015|
|Starring||Seth, Marky Mark|
|Reviewed||12th July 2015|
I love Eric Morcambe. A terrifically gifted comedian and a genius sat at a piano, the site and sound of him massacring a classic tune in full tuxedo and tails garb was a mainstay of Christmas telly when I was growing up and to this day never fails to reduce me to tears of laughter. I shall return to this comic genius later in this review but for now, let’s leave comic genius behind and take a look at Seth MacFarlane’s latest attempt to convince us all we got him completely wrong when we laughed our socks off at Family Guy over and over again….
I really enjoyed the original Ted, released in August 2012, it just about pre-dates this website so despite being absolutely convinced that I’d reviewed it, I haven’t actually. Suffice to say that despite the relentlessly juvenile tone and constant cameos and in-jokes that 70% of the audience will miss, the central relationships between Ted (voiced by MacFarlane), his man-child thunderbuddy John (Marky Mark) and John’s on / off girlfriend Lori (Mila Kunis) were honest and good-natured enough for me to forgive any shortcomings in the script. Ted 2, however is a completely different pipe of weed though….
We re-join the story with Ted now happily married to his first movie sweetheart Tami-Lynn and John now single after a badly described divorce from Lori. Given that Kunis is a long term collaborator with MacFarlane, I’m at a loss to work out just why Lori is given such horrific short-shrift in this one. Fair enough if Kunis was unavailable or just unwilling to reprise the role (and kudos to her for staying clear of this mess) but it’s hard to justify the marriage break-up dismissed from such a one-sided position. Anyway, having cast aside his wife in a divorce that would appear to have been all her fault, John is now drifting as ever, working at whatever the hell his job was in the first movie and smoking a prodigious amount of weed.
Skip forward a year or so from the happy wedding and Ted and Tami-Lynn’s relationship has fallen into constant arguing etc. I’m not being lazy using ‘etc’ there, that really is the level of description required to cover their relationship. Long story short, they decide that having child will cure all their relationship ills. A series of sperm set-pieces later they decide to adopt, only to discover they can’t because Ted is property and not a real person. Cue Amanda Seyfried’s trainee attorney and the road to Ted citizenship.
Sigh. Where to start. Well, the wondrous childhood miracle of your teddy bear coming to life but then the reality of growing up with him, that joke’s done. The man-child finally learning about life and growing, that arc’s done. Sam J Jones cameo, that’s also done. I guess the point I’m making here is that nothing stands out about this movie except how much it highlights MacFarlane’s limitations as a filmmaker. Or maybe it’s not his limitations, maybe this is actually the level he’s happy at and he’s going to continue cranking out these gags until people stop giving him money for it.
Marky Mark’s John goes entirely nowhere, Seyfried seems entirely there to set up a series of, admittedly funny, Golem gags, Jessica Barth’s Tami-Lynn gets no development at all and the majority of the cameos seem crowbarred in just for the sake of it. On the latter though, it has to be said that Liam Neeson’s cameo is easily the funniest part of the entire movie and almost worth the ticket price alone. But not quite.
MacFarlane seems to have absolutely no idea where his characters might go and he seems to have no interest in any of them progressing even slightly. Which would be fine if the rest of the movie was more than just a series of woefully uneven gags strung together by a plot that should have a runtime of about twenty minutes. Two hours in and frankly I was desperate for a running fight with a giant chicken or a five minute cutaway to Conway Twitty.
Ted 2 was always going to be a tough ask for MacFarlane to wring any further gags out but he’s failed even given that consideration. After the godawful A Million Ways to Die in the West, he is sorely in need of a decent idea he can actually flesh out into a full movie. Which is a shame because there are moments in this movie that are genuinely funny and MacFarlane is an exceptionally movie literate guy but he just doesn’t seem to be able to hang anything together beyond a series of sketches.
Which brings me back to Eric Morecambe and his famous line “I am playing all the right notes. Just not necessarily in the right order…” a line that perfectly sums up MacFarlane. He can produce funny material but has no clue how to line it up into anything coherent. Like a man who knows the beat off by heart but has no understanding of the lyrics, he stumbles around shouting every gag, movie reference and pinched line he can in any order with the hope that some of it ends up being funny. Which occasionally it does but nowhere near as frequently as it needs to. It might be amusing jamming a cameo in from Flash Gordon once but in the sequel, it just comes across as lame. Likewise, just because you and your mates get a joke and think it's hilarious, doesn't mean the rest of us will - a running joke about every internet search you do leading to a search for 'black cocks' I defy anyone to make any sense of. Throw the format out Seth and try to make a movie first and a gag reel second. See what happens, it can’t be worse than this.