When he decides he wants to have a child with his new wife, Tami-Lynn (Jessica Barth), Ted (MacFarlane) faces the dispiriting realisation that in the eyes of the law he is not a human, he is a toy.
There was a quality to Ted that made it seem plucked from the ’80s, a time when movies would happily let a high concept just fly, untethered to reality. A bear could come to life and the world around him would carry on unbothered. This sense of freedom to be fantastical without labouring the point was one of its most enjoyable qualities. Ted 2 continues with the retro feel, but this time more specifically following the trend of ’80s sequels in that it heads for New York and isn't nearly as good as the first one.
It's apparent from the opening credits that Seth MacFarlane has lost sight of the original’s tone. He kicks things off with a big old-Hollywood dance number with top hats and swishy dresses and Ted shuffling in the middle. It's a well-produced sequence, but it's not played for laughs. Who is that for? It’s a bizarre start to a film that never settles into a coherent plot, veering from a story about Ted wanting to be a dad, to Ted going to court to prove he’s a person, to Ted going on a road trip with his friend John (Mark Wahlberg) and their lawyer (Amanda Seyfried, better than the material) to Manhattan. They’re chasing a story but they never quite catch it.
MacFarlane's mega-hit Family Guy operates happily as a grab-bag of easy pop-culture references and random plotting. He falls back on that M. O. here, which might make it a hit with lovers of his TV shows but leads to a messy movie. Case in point: in a scene where Ted and his stoner friends happen across the Valhalla of marijuana fields, MacFarlane leans into a pastiche of Jurassic Park — quite funny when it's just an awed head-turn but senseless with, "They move in herds," as a punchline. There's not actually a joke there. That's not comedy, that's hoping people remember stuff. It’s T-shirt slogans instead of a script.
All this might have been just daftly distracting if MacFarlane’s scattershot-offensiveness comedy style occasionally hit his stars. He finds innumerable ways to work the words “black guys” into a punchline and loves a gay gag, but this apparently unemployed man-child and his white-trash bear escape almost unscathed.
Less fun than last time and oddly unpleasant in its tone. MacFarlane takes potshots at everyone he can find, while shielding the two characters that deserve it most.