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In 2012, Family Guy’s Seth McFarlane gave us Ted, a comedy about a teddy bear that came to life. It was actually a pretty good metaphor for the Peter Pan syndrome that the central character, John, suffered from.
It’s 2015, and now we have Ted 2. The bear’s still alive, but it’s a whole new metaphor: Ted wants to get married and adopt a child, but is he human enough to do so? Does he deserve equal rights?
Okay, you can see where this is going. And again, it’s not a half bad metaphor. One can almost see Pat Robertson and Franklin Graham posting on their blogs or talking about it on their shows as proof of the slippery slope that will result from legalizing same sex marriage: if a man can marry a man or a woman a woman, what’s to stop someone from marrying a…stuffed animal.
Oh, the humanity.
I do have to say that Ted 2 starts off with one of the best musical openings in a non-musical film since either Mel Brooks and Anne Bancroft singing Sweet Georgia Brown in Polish in the unfortunate remake of To Be or Not To Be, or Kate Capshaw singing Anything Goes in Chinese in Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom.
After the opening nuptials have been, well, nuptialed (by Flash Gordon’s Sam L. Jones, looking, well, depressingly sad if truth be told, I mean, it’s kind of a bummer), Ted runs off and joins a kick line of women in wedding gowns and men in tuxedos dancing in delirious joy on a wedding cake. It’s an exhilarating bit of a Busby Berkeley tribute and clearly shows McFarlane’s love of musical comedy.
And what’s more, this time round, the choreography is not done by the editor as it has so often been lately in such films as Chicago and Moulin Rouge.
After this, well, how you react to the movie probably depends on how much of it you find funny. Written by McFarlane, Alec Sulkin and Wellesley Wild (as they did the first) I found it hit and miss, though the first half was the funniest. I especially loved the Liam Neeson bit and the writers have a parody of Saturday Night Life that is so pitch perfect, it’s as terrible as Saturday Night Live has been for the last gazillion years or so (in fact, if you want to know what’s gone wrong with that franchise encapsulated in less than a minute, this cut away joke will show you).
At the same time, I found the Breakfast Club parody pretty dated. And when it comes to the big joke that everyone talks about by usually saying, I hated myself for laughing at this it was so offensive, but I couldn’t help myself…well, I not only found I could help myself, it stunned me like I’d been hit. The humor of it escaped me.
But the real issue for the movie begins in the second half when Ted loses his first court challenge. The movie starts off being about whether Ted is human or not, but then in act two, it becomes a long road trip that ends up in New York in the office of a civil rights lawyer (played by Morgan Freeman—Ted has a good joke here about Freeman’s voice, but for me, the august actor just never seemed comfortable and his comic timing seemed either non-existent or belonging to a different movie).
This final act revolves around a subplot that is headed by Donny (Giovanni Ribisi), an odd janitor at a toy company who wants to open up Ted to see what makes him tick and whether it can be duplicated in other bears all of which culminates in a show down at a comic con convention.
But again, most of this is just a long chase scene and really has nothing to do with the central conflict. It feels like it’s there because, well, something has to be there, something has to be done to force the movie to a climax. So let’s do this.
And I do empathize with the writers. I don’t know how one would actually make an hour and a half movie whose central conflict is nothing but whether a teddy bear that’s come to life is human or not. I mean, I don’t know how I would do it.
But I’m not sure the solution found here is the best.
The movie ends with Freeman’s lawyer deciding to take up Ted’s case (at first he rejects taking it, but then has what’s called an off stage conversion and it’s not quite believable in the context). What’s odd here is that in the final court scene, he actually uses pretty much the same line of reasoning used earlier by Ted’s lawyer (Amanda Seyfried). But I guess it’s much harder for jurists to reject an argument when the voice of God vocalizes it.
With John Slattery as John Slattery.