More cheek to bear

The West Australian


Ted 2 (MA15+)

Mark Wahlberg, Amanda Seyfried


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I loved Seth Macfarlane's A Million Ways to Die in the West, even though many critics and viewers didn't. But judging by the guffaws at the preview of Ted 2, it seems the creator's gutter, sophomoric humour conveys itself better through animated characters such as his Family Guy line-up, or via the lips of a cuddly teddy bear come to life.

Certainly, there's an abundance of the trademark gross-out sight gags and scatological jokes in this sequel to the surprise 2012 hit about the profane, pot-smoking sentient doll. But perhaps its's the odd mix of innocence and vulgarity that makes the growing Ted franchise weirdly enjoyable, even by those who don't wish to admit it. But hey, in the dark, no-one can see you laugh.

The movie kicks off with the marriage of Ted to childhood sweetheart Tami-Lynn (Jessica Barth), before evolving into a splendid Busby Berkeley routine that captivates the audience's attention from the start. But there's trouble a-brewing (or even a-bruin) in paradise, with the couple embroiled in so many quarrels that they figure only having children will help restore domestic bliss.

Towards this end, Ted's deficiency is obvious, so they choose to adopt a child, which immediately raises a red flag with the Government about the bear's rights as a person. Together with thunder buddy John Bennett (Mark Wahlberg) and Sam L Jackson (Amanda Seyfried), Ted takes the case to court, where he rules proceedings with his mix of well-meaning but crass commentaries.

There are many choice moments along the way, such as a Disney-esque song scene in the middle of a deserted farm, Morgan Freeman playing the sort of suave, sensitive soul he has often been stereotyped as, and a visit to a comedy improvisation club where Ted and company shout inappropriate suggestions, both cringeworthy and hilarious at the same time.

Perhaps the only unnecessary element was the return of Giovanni Ribisi's unlikeable character from the first movie, with the villain intent on capturing Ted and making copies of him, including one of his very own to keep. But it does allow Macfarlane the opportunity to unleash his inner geek and shoot scenes at the New York Comic Con, where ultimately various cosplay characters end up fighting each other as the film moves to its climax.

With the movie premiering in the same week as Perth's SuperNova comic convention, the timing could not have been better for it to gain some valuable word-of-mouth promotion. Certainly, more than a few convention enthusiasts would have left the theatres with broad grins on their faces.

The film is precisely what viewers familiar with the original would expect, no less and certainly no more. Yet while it is among the funniest movies to be released this year, its place in the galaxy of cinematic comedies will barely register a cosmic ripple. Macfarlane may have tapped his formulaic seam of pop culture-influenced, off-colour buffoonery to its fullest, and it will be interesting to see if he brings anything new to his next project.

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