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David Poland

By David Poland

Review: Ted Again (Ted 2)


A basic rule about narrative art… the first thing with which an audience connects is the heart of what the material is about.

Casablanca is not just a movie about a guy who loves a woman enough to give her up a second time. But that’s the movie.

Batman movies are not just about a guy who lost his parents to violence but can’t do anything except keep fighting for what he sees as justice, never escaping his ghosts. But that’s what the movies are.

Titanic is certainly about more than a great doomed love that survives death, decades and the sinking of the unsinkable ship. But that’s what that movie is.

Ted was a sensational idea to which people could universally relate. What if the childhood toy you were obsessed with not only came to life, but continued to live past his cuteness, your cuteness, and to the point where he was keeping you from becoming an adult? Second layer… he’s a stoner, drunken horndog, which is against the expectations we all have of teddy bears. That second layer knocked a lot of people off the Ted wagon, but there were still tens of millions who were thrilled to go along for that ride.

So what is Ted 2 about?

Almost nothing. There is the pretense that it is about the civil right of Ted to not be considered property… but not really. Writer/Director/Ted-Voice Seth MacFarlane makes it clear that Ted 2 is mostly going to be a series of gags right up front. There is a non-sequitur, unrealistic gag that might work in the middle of the movie, but is right up there. Then Ted has a giant dance number combining Busby Berkeley-style choreography and the CG bear that expresses nothing but MacFarlane’s musical ambition and a bigger budget.

Meanwhile – not spoilers unless you consider the movie’s set-up to be such – Wahlberg’s John Bennett has split from his wife, the marriage to whom was the entire central story of the first film. Just gone. The weird, gross, funny sexual relationship with the dumb blonde cashier, Tami-Lynn (played by Jessica Barth) goes from being bored with one another to boringly married.

In other words, they got rid of the raunch and the sincerity, leaving nothing but jokes.

A few of the jokes are good. The idea of Tom Brady being treated like a horse gone to stud is funny. There’s a daring gag with Amanda Seyfried. Other laughs.

Bur empty calories. Nothing adds to anything. It is the embodiment, however occasionally laugh-out-loud funny, of bad sequelitis.

It finally struck me what might have actually been better, as recapturing a fresh idea in a sequel is really hard. Instead of making a movie about not having a baby… how about a movie about a character like Ted having a baby. Jerky stunted-adolescent guys have kids too… and in the end, if they have love in their hearts, they have to find a way to give it all to the kid(s). Bear, no bear… that is drama (that can be comedic).

But I don’t want to tell them what they should have done… just that what was done just isn’t about anything… not even the raw raunch of the original.

Not terrible. Not good.

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6 Responses to “Review: Ted Again (Ted 2)”

  1. EtGuild2 says:

    Agree with this take…but can we talk about the strangest studio movie of 2015? MAX is so strange it’s practically indescribable. A doggie for kids flick that inserts the Taliban, rocket launchers, online piracy and gun trafficking.

  2. Ray Pride says:

    And “From The Director of A PRICE ABOVE RUBIES!”

  3. PcChongor says:

    I’ll take “Samurai Cat” over “PTSD Dog” any day of the week:

  4. Stella's Boy says:

    And “From The Director of A PRICE ABOVE RUBIES!”

    Not to mention it was co-written by the director of Lionheart and Double Impact.

  5. Bulldog68 says:

    I laughed more than this than during Spy, the critically praised comedy this summer. Thought the cameos were good. Not as good as part 1 by any means, but I think that I enjoyed it a bit more than Dave.

    You could tell that they were running out of steam and needed to fill time but I can’t say it was a negative experience.

  6. Hcat says:

    After seeing Shatner interact with him at the oscars I can’t help but imagine that Sam Jones might have been the second choice if Shatner didn’t want to be portrayed as a raging coke maniac. The Unfortunate Ming joke in the original works just as well if not better as Khan.

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It shows how out of it I was in trying to be in it, acknowledging that I was out of it to myself, and then thinking, “Okay, how do I stop being out of it? Well, I get some legitimate illogical narrative ideas” — some novel, you know?

So I decided on three writers that I might be able to option their material and get some producer, or myself as producer, and then get some writer to do a screenplay on it, and maybe make a movie.

And so the three projects were “Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep,” “Naked Lunch” and a collection of Bukowski. Which, in 1975, forget it — I mean, that was nuts. Hollywood would not touch any of that, but I was looking for something commercial, and I thought that all of these things were coming.

There would be no Blade Runner if there was no Ray Bradbury. I couldn’t find Philip K. Dick. His agent didn’t even know where he was. And so I gave up.

I was walking down the street and I ran into Bradbury — he directed a play that I was going to do as an actor, so we know each other, but he yelled “hi” — and I’d forgot who he was.

So at my girlfriend Barbara Hershey’s urging — I was with her at that moment — she said, “Talk to him! That guy really wants to talk to you,” and I said “No, fuck him,” and keep walking.

But then I did, and then I realized who it was, and I thought, “Wait, he’s in that realm, maybe he knows Philip K. Dick.” I said, “You know a guy named—” “Yeah, sure — you want his phone number?”

My friend paid my rent for a year while I wrote, because it turned out we couldn’t get a writer. My friends kept on me about, well, if you can’t get a writer, then you write.”
~ Hampton Fancher

“That was the most disappointing thing to me in how this thing was played. Is that I’m on the phone with you now, after all that’s been said, and the fundamental distinction between what James is dealing with in these other cases is not actually brought to the fore. The fundamental difference is that James Franco didn’t seek to use his position to have sex with anyone. There’s not a case of that. He wasn’t using his position or status to try to solicit a sexual favor from anyone. If he had — if that were what the accusation involved — the show would not have gone on. We would have folded up shop and we would have not completed the show. Because then it would have been the same as Harvey Weinstein, or Les Moonves, or any of these cases that are fundamental to this new paradigm. Did you not notice that? Why did you not notice that? Is that not something notable to say, journalistically? Because nobody could find the voice to say it. I’m not just being rhetorical. Why is it that you and the other critics, none of you could find the voice to say, “You know, it’s not this, it’s that”? Because — let me go on and speak further to this. If you go back to the L.A. Times piece, that’s what it lacked. That’s what they were not able to deliver. The one example in the five that involved an issue of a sexual act was between James and a woman he was dating, who he was not working with. There was no professional dynamic in any capacity.

~ David Simon