Ted 2 (2015)

(Video on Demand, December 2015) The first Ted managed to overcome an annoying tendency toward vulgarity, pop-culture hermeticity and scattershot comedy by offering a bit of thematic depth in portraying a metaphor for prolonged adolescence.  The sequel, unfortunately, seems to have forgotten all about meaning while playing up the worst aspects of the first film.  The laughs are far fewer in this film as it tries to combine low-brow humor with a lame bid at human rights (or rather teddy-bear rights) activism.  Sexist, racist and hopelessly obsessed with bad language, Ted 2 often feels like a sketch comedy loosely structured around a half-hearted attempt at plotting.  Mark Wahlberg is unremarkable in a returning engagement as the protagonist, although Amanda Seyfried manages one of her most likable performance as a young lawyer tasked to defend Ted’s legal status.  (The film even indulges into two gags about her physical appearance.)  Whatever comedy works (Liam Neeson’ cameo appearance, for instance) feel more accidental than deliberate, and the jokes that don’t work make the film feel cheaper and more repellent.  It feels like a low-effort affair, happy to coast on low-grade dumb jokes rather than try to make a statement as in the first film.  Unfortunately, it doesn’t say much about writer/director Seth MacFarlaine: After the debacle that was A Million Ways to Die in the West and now Ted 2, I’m not exactly anticipating his next film.

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