SETH McFarlane reunites Mark Wahlberg and his foul-mouthed teddy bear creation for a second run in Ted 2, a surprisingly enjoyable sequel to the underwhelming original which proves that a sequel sometimes can better its inferior predecessor.
Starting with the wedding between Ted (voiced by McFarlane) and his lover from the first film Tami-Lynn (Jessica Barth), the film shifts a year forward where the domestic bliss is replaced with constant arguing and feuding. Realising that the answer to their problems lies with having a child, their plans are torn apart not just because of fertility problems, but because of rules citing they cannot adopt due to Ted’s labelling as property and not human.
Following the government annulment of his marriage and his right to work, Ted takes to court to win back his rights with support from best friend John (Wahlberg) and newly qualified lawyer, the curiously-named Samantha L. Jackson, (Amanda Seyfried, replacing Mila Kunis as the female lead).
At the same time, the evil teddy-snatcher from the first film Donny (Giovanni Ribisi) returns, this time as a janitor for a toy company headquarters. Upon meeting with the company’s boss (John Carroll Lynch), a ruthless plan is devised to find a flawless prosecutor for Ted’s case (Mad Men’s John Slattery) then kidnap Ted after the case as part of a plan to create a global teddy bear for the market.
While there are occasional imperfections in this, Ted 2 works simply because it comes across in the end as surprising. The first Ted film failed due to its lack of consistency and frequency of hit-and-miss humour, more of which fell into the latter. This time, the humour is more hit rather than miss, a surprising tendency for comedy sequels which often tend to be weaker than the original.
Some of the best jokes enter the typical McFarlane zone of humour that people will either find really funny or really offensive, and there will be some who will be genuinely offended at certain times. Included are Ted heckling recent news events as examples to use in a comedy improvisation club, the comments aimed at Slattery’s prosecutor in the court case and a gay couple who use their Comic-Con visit to randomly assault those dressed as superheroes they clearly dislike.
The funniest sequence however arrives earlier on when Ted and John attend a fertility clinic during which they are introduced to a donation room where an inadvertent slip on John’s part results in a gross-inducing but hilarious scenario. The preceding sequence where the two break into a house and unsuccessfully attempt to obtain a sample from the American football star Tom Brady ultimately sets course for a random blending of generally humorous dialogue and welcome slapstick comedy.
McFarlane, who also directed the film, shows off the film at times as a tribute to some of the top quality films from the 1980s. The post-credits argument between bear and wife and the subsequent shouting match that takes place with the neighbours is clearly designed to emulate the atmosphere from Raging Bull. A montage where John, Samantha and Ted work in the library and often dance in a certain way is clearly meant to resemble the dancing sequence from The Breakfast Club. A scenario where Ted erratically drives a car while swinging to Ray Charles’ ‘Do the Mess Around’ as John and Samantha somehow sleep through it will not come across as a puzzle to anyone who has seen Planes, Trains and Automobiles.
The opening sequences depicting the wedding and the subsequent celebration does question whether this one will be any different to the first one. An early cameo involving Liam Neeson as a shopper worried about the purchase of a cereal comes across as flat and justifies the question of the opener but with patience, the film does take its stride.
It is not the most original of comedies and there are times when the lack of total consistency does prevent the film from being funnier, but thanks to the story and a satisfying range of typical McFarlane humour, this is a rare comedy sequel that works well.