I may not be the biggest fan of Family Guy anymore, but the first Ted was actually okay as modern comedies go. Where Spy failed with its insult humor, Ted had that in addition to Seth MacFarlane’s signature references, a touch of the awkward, plenty of shock, and moments of absurdism with the motif of a talking bear as an allegory for growing up, succeeding where comedies from this past decade have failed. Does the sequel improve upon its predecessor or does Ted 2 make Blues Brothers 2000 look like The Blues Brothers?
Comedy sequels are always troublesome. Nine times out of ten they are terrible or not as good as the first. Either they do not go far enough, do too much, or ruin the reputation of the first. Dumb and Dumber To was clever in its use of subversion by destroying any hope of following the first because it knew it was impossible, celebrating Dumb and Dumber as a classic. Ted 2 is not a classic by any means, but it is worth a watch.
In an attempt to better their marriage by having a baby (yeah, that’ll work), Ted, played by Seth MacFarlane, and his wife Tami-Lynn, played by Jessica Barth, attempt to adopt, but are turned down because Ted is technically not a person in the eyes of the law. As a result his life begins to unravel and asks his best friend John, played by Mark Wahlberg, to help prove he is a person in court with their lawyer Samantha, played by Amanda Seyfried.
What makes 2 work is how much more there is compared to the first, but not enough that it is too much. Ted was in that MacFarlane sort of way grounded in reality, with relevant themes and jokes that did not go too far. 2 is also restrained in the level of overall content, but said content has been ramped up. Jokes are more crude, situations graphic, absurdism increased, and the scale of camp higher. It is very similar to Family Guy after it was resurrected, where you could not enjoy it if you took the show seriously. Ted 2 wants to be a straight comedy that does not care what anyone thinks.
The jokes included are both original and rehashes. While borrowing from your previous work is frowned up, 2 updates Family Guy’s gags to set them apart. The best jokes are original, of course, with one including a cameo of Liam Neeson, the theme song from Jurassic Park, and another with Patrick Warburton and Michael Dorn at the New York City Comic Con. Ironically, the end goal of 2 is to prove Ted has sentience, which was the plot of a Star Trek: The Next Generation episode, and Patrick Stewart is back to provide narration. It is a nice bled of the clever and immature one can enjoy as long as you do not take it seriously.
While there are those who will, the major undeniable problem I find with 2 is its length. 115 minutes is not a lot, but there is a strong sense the film drags. It is very dense in how the story plays out, escalating from small-scale comedy, to courtroom drama, road trip, and ends with a huge joke fight. There is so much going on it can feel overwhelming. The road trip sequence could have been cut to make the film easier to sit through.
If you plan on seeing Ted 2, I strongly advise going in with an open mind. There is no reason to take any comedy seriously, especially ones made by Seth MacFarlane. If you are expecting a follow-up exactly like Ted, you will be sorely disappointed like Brad Jones of the Cinema Snob. Seriously, it was not that awful, Brad. Did your shoulder injury also break your ability to have fun or is that just the medication?