Somebody needs to take Seth MacFarlane aside and calm his ass down. He’s still funny, for sure, but he’s getting egregiously carried away in his movies, to the point where he is wrecking what could be good times.
The original Ted was the oddest of charmers. A profane teddy bear saying some of the most disgusting stuff ever in a mainstream movie, teamed with Mark Wahlberg in dumb puppy-dog mode, proved to be a winning success.
Then there was last year’s A Million Ways to Die in the West, MacFarlane’s obvious directorial bid to be the next Mel Brooks. Some great jokes were buried in a movie in which he miscast the main role by putting himself in it, and went far overboard with the running time and production values.
Now, with 20 million or so extra dollars to spend over the original Ted, director MacFarlane goes crazy again, with a near two-hour movie that feels like five, and is way overstuffed and often ill-conceived. It looks like it blows about $10 million in the worthless, old Hollywood dance number that plays during the opening credits. There are no laughs during this, just Ted the dancing bear with a bunch of glitzy dancers eating up a lot of budget money.
Ted, in a bid to be recognized as human, winds up in a courtroom trying to prove he isn’t just property. MacFarlane actually compares his plight to slaves and Dred Scott.
Courtroom movies stand among my least favorite strain of cinema, and this movie does courtrooms badly. I’d say it does courtrooms just as bad as that movie last year featuring Robert Duvall shitting himself.
Another subplot involves Ted trying to have a baby with his new wife, Tami-Lynn (Jessica Barth). This part of the film is far more successful, with Ted and “thunder buddy” John (Wahlberg) trying to get sperm out of Tom Brady while he sleeps. A sperm clinic visit that winds up with John suffering through the worst bukkake scene ever is also good for some laughs—surprisingly so.
There are actually a lot of good laughs in this movie. A running gag involving candy dishes had me laughing out loud, and celebrity cameos involving a box of Trix and bathroom sex did the same. And god bless Amanda Seyfried as Ted’s stoned lawyer (replacing Mila Kunis as the female lead), who isn’t afraid to take on a barrage of Gollum eye comparisons.
As funny as the film can be at times, it just torpedoes itself with the running time and courtroom scenes. MacFarlane falls victim to that need for making a sequel bigger and grander than the original. A simpler film that relied more on the gags and less on bullshit sentimentality would’ve been just fine. There’s no need for 75 percent of this movie to exist.
I love the character Wahlberg has created for these movies, a mean-spirited dimwit who gets away with being terrible by acting all sheepish and innocent. Wahlberg is gifted with some major comic timing, and the vast majority of his gags hit the bull’s-eye.
MacFarlane, who, of course, voices the teddy bear, is a great counterpart. The best scenes in this film are the simpler ones, including a classic fight between Ted and Tami-Lynn in their tenement apartment. It makes you wish the film just focused on Ted’s domestic troubles and pot smoking rather than trying to make a grand statement about the plight of teddy bears as property/pets.
MacFarlane needs to step back, realize his strengths, and try to be something other than Mel Brooks. Brooks became unfunny overnight, and I fear the same could happen to MacFarlane if he doesn’t scale back and knock it off with the grand gestures. It’s indie film time.
Wahlberg, Seyfried and MacFarlane as a CGI bear make for a funny trio. Too bad that funny trio is stuck in a film that’s too big for its britches and a little too self important for comfort. Dred Scott? Really? Dred Scott?