'Ted 2' no teddy bears' picnic
"Ted 2" is no teddy bears' picnic. And that's a big part of its rude charm.
The sequel by writer-director Seth MacFarlane, who voices the not-so-cuddly teddy bear named Ted, and co-wrote the screenplay with Alec Sulkin and Wellesley Wild (writing partners on TV's "Family Guy" animated comedy, 1999-present) was guaranteed since the breakout hit "Ted" (2012), which MacFarlane ("A Million Ways To Die In The West," 2014) also co-wrote with Sulkin and Wild and directed (and gave voice to Ted), grossed $218.7 million domestically and $281.4 million internationally for a total $500.1 million.
Mark Wahlberg is back as John, the grown-up whose teddy bear grew up, too, and proved to be a real, ahem, bear. Not that Ted is, ahem, unbearable. MacFarlane's Ted, thanks to superb CGI animation, retains the teddy bear "cuddleability" factor even as Ted is spouting foul-mouthed humor.
"Ted 2" pandas, er, panders, to our worst instincts even as the characters, including Ted, try to work out the best solutions. It's a formula for cinematic comedy that goes back to Mack Sennett one-reelers and the films of Harold Lloyd, Buster Keaton and Charlie Chaplin, as well as Laurel and Hardy. Only here, it's Wahlberg and Ted.
Crucial to the comedy success of "Ted 2" is the addition of Amanda Seyfried ("Mean Girls," 2004; "Mama Mia!," 2008; "Dear John," 2010; "Les Miserables," 2012), a William Allen High School graduate who proves herself quite adept at light comedy. She makes a hilarious entrance as a fledgling attorney who takes the case to prove Ted's personhood.
Proving Ted's personhood is the plot driver, even to enlisting the aid of a seasoned lawyer (the always estimable Morgan Freeman).
The skewed depth of MacFarlane's writing is ever-fascinating. "I think I want to sleep on a bed made of your voice," Ted says to Freeman.
MacFarlane's comedy style is way over the top. Before his marriage to Tami-Lynn (a fun Jessica Barth), at Ted's bachelor party, the guys watch nature films. His actors are also fearless in their embracing of his comedy, including Liam Neeson in a cameo involving the ad phrase "Trix are for kids," and an unmentionable scene involving Boston Patriots quarterback Tom Brady, John and Ted (dressed in a yellow slicker looking like Paddington) that rivals the outrage of "Deflategate."
Perhaps revealing the sentimental side that draws him to Broadway show tunes, MacFarlane gives Seyfried a nice moment around a campfire as she strums a guitar and sings "Mean Ol' Moon," written by MacFarlane and Walter Murphy, the film's composer. MacFarlane choreographs a silly dance scene in a library for Seyfried et al.
The whole proceedings end up in a ridiculous and hilarious scene at the New York Comic Con at the Javits Center (with Patrick Warburton as superhero The Tick, and Seyfried and a Gollum character startling each other with their big eyes). Giovanni Ribisi is back as the deranged Donny in a role that seems underdeveloped.
This is not your kids' animated teddy bear film. Adults will grin and "bear" it, though.
"Ted 2," MPAA rated R (Restricted. Children Under 17 Require Accompanying Parent or Adult Guardian.) for crude and sexual content, pervasive language, and some drug use; Genre: Comedy; Run time: 1 hr., 45 min.; Distributed by Universal Pictures.
Credit Readers Anonymous: Norah Jones sings a big band version of "Mean Ol' Moon" during the "Ted 2" end credits. Stay to the very end for a scene revealing the outcome of Liam Neeson and the ad phrase "Trix are for kids."
Box Office, July 3: For the July Fourth weekend, "Jurassic World" thundered on, four weeks in a row at No. 1, with $30.9 million, $558.1 million, four weeks, oh so narrowly edging out "Inside Out," continuing at No. 2, with $30.1 million, $246.1 million, three weeks; and keeping "Terminator Genisys," starring Arnold Schwarzenegger, opening at No. 3, with $28.7 million, for the weekend, and $44.1 million, since opening July 1; and also keeping "Magic Mike XXL," opening at No. 4, with $11.6 million, weekend; and $26.6 million, since July 1;
5. "Ted 2," $11 million, $58.3 million, two weeks; 6. "Max," $6.6 million, $25.3 million, two weeks; 7. "Spy," $5.5 million, $97.8 million, five weeks; 8. "San Andreas," $3 million, $147.3 million, six weeks; 9. "Me and Earl and the Dying Girl," $1.3 million, $4 million, four weeks; 10. "Dope," $1 million, $14.1 million, three weeks;
Unreel, July 10:
"Minions," PG: The Minions, breakout "stars" of the animated film, "Despicable Me" (2010), get top billing in the sequel. Supervillain Scarlet Overkill (voiced by Sandra Bullock) and her husband, inventor Herb (Jon Hamm), have yet another plot to take over the world. The voice talent in the comedy includes Michael Keaton, Allison Janney, Steve Carell, Steve Coogan and Geoffrey Rush (as the narrator).
"Self-less," PG: 13: A wealthy man, who has cancer, transfers his consciousness into the body of a young man. Ryan Reynolds, Natalie Martinez, Matthew Goode and Ben Kingsley star in the science-fiction thriller.
Read Paul Willistein's movie reviews at the Lehigh Valley Press website, thelehighvalley-press.com; the Times News website, tnonline.com; and hear them on "Lehigh Valley Art Salon," 6-6:30 p.m. Mondays, WDIY 88.1 FM, wdiy.org, where the movie reviews are archived. Email Paul Willistein: pwillistein@ tnonline.com. Follow Paul Willistein on Twitter @PaulWillistein and friend Paul Willistein on Facebook.
Two Popcorn Boxes out of Five Popcorn Boxes