Ted 2 - Cinema Review

'It's a shame that MacFarlane can't maintain his focus on the main plot, instead veering off into overdone pop culture references and half-baked ideas'.

It seems that, with every new film he releases, Seth MacFarlane becomes more focused on entertaining himself than he is anyone else. Ted 2 proves this within the first five minutes. There's the now obligatory Patrick Stewart voiceover cameo, a joke where the punchline is one or more characters being gay, and a cutaway gag that may as well be a live-action recreation of a scene from Family Guy (one of the later seasons, as it's not particularly funny). So far, so predictably MacFarlane.

To round off Ted 2's opening, the writer and director then delivers a full musical dance number complete with top hats, coat tails and shiny black canes. The only thing that ties this into the film is the computer-animated teddy bear dancing along at the front. But, when the sequence finally reaches its conclusion, there's no joke to be told, no punchline to deliver. It's technically impressive and tightly choreographed, but leaves you scratching your head as to just who it was for. Then the image of MacFarlane's self-satisfied grin floats into your mind, and all becomes clear.

MacFarlane's approach here, more than in the original Ted or even A Million Ways To Die In The West, is to throw as many jokes and set-ups at the screen in the hope that something sticks. Inevitably something occasionally does, with Ted 2 providing a handful of genuinely well-written laughs throughout its near-two-hour running time. But there are far more which feel tired, forced or simply fall flat. Ted 2 is at its worst, however, when at its most mean-spirited. MacFarlane has never shied away from bad taste humour, but there are attempted jokes here which are plain nasty. One sequence offers gags about Robin Williams' suicide and the Charlie Hebdo shooting in quick succession, both of which create shock for shock's sake, rather than being in any way funny.

The role reversal from the first film, making Ted (MacFarlane) the main character and John Bennett (Mark Wahlberg) his support, is a smart choice, especially as MacFarlane clearly has no new ideas for John. When he does trouble himself with narrative, MacFarlane actually offers a central concept which feels stronger than that of the previous film; centred around whether Ted can be considered a person in the eyes of the law, it's this story which delivers Ted 2's strongest moments through some well-written and humorous courtroom scenes. It's a shame that MacFarlane can't maintain his focus on the main plot, instead veering off into overdone pop culture references and half-baked ideas. If ever there was a character who didn't need to return it's Giovanni Ribisi's antagonistic Donny, brought back here for an entirely pointless subplot which is partially recycled from the first film and which even MacFarlane can't be bothered with come its limp conclusion.

I like MacFarlane, and I still believe he's capable of making a worthwhile film, something in my eyes he has yet to do. But if he ever wants to achieve this, he needs to find a way to rein in the self indulgence that currently suffocates any hope of successful comedy in his big screen efforts.

By Ben Broadribb. Ben is a regular contributor to Film Intel, having previously written at Some Like It Hot Fuzz. He is normally seen in the wild wearing t-shirts containing obscure film references. He is a geek, often unashamedly so. He's also on and Twitter.

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