By Devon Shuman, The Miami Student
Seth MacFarlane’s unique style of humor could be compared to Justin Bieber or pineapple on pizza: people either love it or hate it. There’s no in-between.
While his fans enjoy the way his absurdity and vulgarity poke fun at specific, mundane aspects of life, his critics point out the lack of connection between his storylines and his random jokes (highlighted by “Family Guy’s” infamous cutaway scenes).
Whatever your stance, however, the good thing about Seth Macfarlane’s humor is that across all his work, it is consistent. Nobody flips on “Family Guy” or buys a ticket for “Ted” expecting to watch an American masterpiece. They know exactly what they’re getting into.
Macfarlane’s latest work, “Ted 2,” picks up a few years after its predecessor. Ted marries Tami-Lynn (remember the heavily-accented, slightly abrasive girlfriend played by Jessica Barth from the first film?), but after a year, their relationship is falling apart. In an effort to save it, they decide to have a baby. The obvious problem with this plan is that, being a teddy bear, Ted lacks the means to reproduce.
After an unsuccessful yet hilarious search for a sperm donor, Ted and Tami-Lynn decide to adopt. However, their application is rejected when the government declares that Ted is not, in fact, a person. This leads Ted to hire a lawyer (Amanda Seyfried) to help him fight for his rights.
So how does “Ted 2” stack up to the original? In many ways, they’re very similar. As mentioned, Macfarlane’s brand of comedy is consistent across all of his works. He even repeats some of the same stitches from the first film such as the hysterical names for strains of weed.
This isn’t necessarily bad; MacFarlane is simply aware of what people enjoyed in the original. Whereas many sequels, such as “Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull” (the horrid one with Shia LaBeouf), try to take their series in a wild new direction just for the box office money, “Ted” sticks to what works.
Giovanni Ribisi was one of the things that worked. He reprises his role as the wonderfully creepy Donny who, after failing in the first film, is back again to try and steal Ted. Up against the not-so-Oscar-worthy likes of Mark Wahlberg and Mila Kunis, Ribisi was arguably the best actor in the first film and he nails it again in the sequel.
Everything he does on screen made my skin crawl, particularly when he keeps repeating the phrase “Fresh Cakes” after replacing the urinal cakes in the bathroom.
It’s not all the same, however. Amanda Seyfried is a wonderful addition to the cast as Samantha, the hard-working, open-minded lawyer who stands up for Ted. Time and time again, in films such as “Les Miserables” and “Mamma Mia,” she has proven herself to be a brilliant actress, and with “Ted 2,” she shows that she can kill it in a comedy as well.
Additionally, the film is bolstered by a host of hilarious celebrity cameos that are pleasantly surprising and add an aspect of humor that was absent in the first film.
“Ted 2” isn’t perfect. Another aspect of MacFarlane’s comedy is that it is rapid fire. Every scene is jam-packed with jokes. With that style, it’s truly hit or miss. It would be impossible for every joke to land. For instance, I laughed out loud when Ted, John and Samantha go to the Improv to yell out inappropriate suggestions (e.g. “Alright, someone shout out a person,” “Bill Cosby!”), but I barely chuckled when Ted told his loud and animated African-American co-worker that she “makes history come alive.” Of course, this is a matter of personal preference, but chances are, with the onslaught of jokes MacFarlane throws at you, you won’t love all of them.
The biggest pitfall of the movie, however, is the romantic storyline between John and Samantha. Mila Kunis was pregnant during production of the sequel, so MacFarlane had to write off her character. It is revealed early on in “Ted 2” that John and Lori had divorced. Now that he’s single, he becomes romantically involved with Samantha as the movie progresses.
This is simply unneeded. Their love story is cliché and predictable and all it does is distract from the main plot of the movie. In “Thank You For Smoking,” Rob Lowe’s character introduces the idea of a space movie where people are smoking cigarettes. When it is pointed out that they would blow up in an all-oxygen environment, he says, “It’s an easy fix. One line of dialogue: ‘Thank God we invented the … whatever device.’” Following this logic, MacFarlane didn’t need to write in a completely new storyline for John’s character. All he needed was one line of dialogue to explain Lori’s absence.
With “Ted 2,” you know what you’re paying for. If you’ve enjoyed Seth MacFarlane’s past works, you’ll love it. If you haven’t, then don’t waste your time with it. While some might interpret Ted’s plight as a social commentary on the way rights are withheld from certain demographics, it’s really not. It’s just a teddy bear. Take it at that, sit back and have a few laughs.