There are a handful of absolute winner, downright hilarious moments in Ted 2, but the best might just be a throwaway gag that comes early on at a wedding reception. After a reference to snorting cocaine and the suggestion that “nobody will notice,” director Seth MacFarlane cuts to a guy jumping rope really fast, who then in one motion stops, punches someone in the face and leaps head first out a glass window. The moment is so random, free and out there that I laughed so hard I cried.
Fans of MacFarlane’s hit Fox TV show Family Guy (and I am one) are used to this type of absurdity, so the outlandish silliness is par for the course. MacFarlane is the guy who sang “We Saw Your Boobs” while hosting the Oscars in 2013, after all. If you want anything resembling maturity in your comedy, look elsewhere.
What MacFarlane hasn’t been able to do in his other films (Ted (2012) and A Million Ways To Die In The West (2014)) but does achieve here are consistent laughs throughout, effectively pacing the jokes to keep us satisfied over the course of 115 hysterical minutes. MacFarlane (who co-wrote the script with Family Guy writers Alec Sulkin and Wellesley Wild) also tells a better story here than he has in the past; clearly he’s learned from his mistakes, and now we’re reaping the benefits.
After an odd Busby Berkeley-ish opening dance number that looks expensive but doesn’t work, we see recently married Ted (voice of MacFarlane) and Tami-Lynn (Jessica Barth) fighting over their lack of money. So they do what far too many dysfunctional young couples do when things are bumpy: they decide to have a baby. But Ted, being a talking teddy bear, obviously cannot conceive naturally, and with Sam Jones (playing himself) and Tom Brady (playing himself) emphatically rejecting the opportunity to be their sperm donor, and Tami-Lynn ending up infertile anyway, their only option is to adopt.
Meanwhile, Ted’s best friend John (Mark Wahlberg) is divorced from Lori (remember Mila Kunis in Ted?), single and lonely. After Ted and Tami-Lynn are told they can’t adopt because Ted isn’t a human being they enlist the help of a lawyer named Sam Jackson (Amanda Seyfried) to prove Ted is a person, not property. Throw in appearances by Giovanni Ribisi, Morgan Freeman, Patrick Warburton and John Slattery, as well as funny cameos from Jay Leno and Liam Neeson, and you have yourself a laugh-out-loud comedy that you’ll want to see twice because the roar of the crowd drowns out the follow-up jokes that come after the funniest moments.
With all the talk of marriage, adoption, humanity and civil rights you may get the impression Ted 2 has serious overtones, but it assuredly does not. MacFarlane has no inclination toward such things. His writing works because it’s sharp with wit and brash guy humor, not because it makes us think about our place in the world. Or to put it another way, he’d rather dump a rack of sperm donations onto Mark Wahlberg than discuss civil rights. Fine with me. Fans of MacFarlane will be pleased to know Ted 2 plays like a good episode of Family Guy, and is a better movie overall than Ted. The bottom line is that you go to this movie wanting to laugh, and laugh you will from start to finish.