Thursday, July 2, 2015

Ted 2

**1/2 out of ****

Despite Seth MacFarlane's constant flaws, I enjoyed 2012’s Ted, immensely. Since then, I’ve become disenchanted with his inability to grow as a comedy artist, while taking on too many business responsibilities. Family Guy only seems to get worse and his last film, A Million Ways to Die in the West was inexplicably vacuous despite being such a good idea for a comedy.

After ignoring his creations for about a year, I'm disappointed to report that Seth still follows that FOX TV comedy tradition, which believes that being mean is funny. He also follows the Farrelly Brothers' tendency to go for witless gross-out gags. Look, these things can be funny, but when MacFarlane and Co. build up to Mark Wahlberg being doused in semen with total predictability, there's nothing to laugh at. 

In this movie, Ted, now married to Tami-Lynn (Jessica Barth), feels that having a child would be a nice change to bring love to their fragile marriage (in real life, this can be a mistake), but finds his legitimacy as a legally protected person - who can marry, adopt a child, or even hold a job - called into question by the authorities. This begins a vague little allegory for same-sex marriage.

I continue to insist that the worst thing about MacFarlane is how he pretends to care. The first Ted wasted time trying to treat a relationship story with sincerity, climaxing with a wedding as the movie's happy ending. This time, the movie opens with Wahlberg's character divorced so that he can conveniently behave like a manchild with Ted again and meet another serious woman. The woman is a lawyer, played by Amanda Seyfried. Even though this new love interest shows more comic compatibility by sharing a love of marijuana - and is hilariously ignorant of anything pop-cultural - she's still there to help him grow up a little... again.  

HOWEVER, I was surprised, while watching Ted 2, that Seth can still make me laugh... a lot. There’s a scene where Liam Neeson makes a cameo as a paranoid man in a checkout line, struggling with the purchase of a box of Trix cereal. Among his tributes to classic entertainment, like a showy Busby Berkeley style musical opening, there’s also a part that makes better use of John WilliamsJurassic Park theme, than Jurassic World managed to a few weeks ago. Essentially, MacFarlane has always been so close to achieving the same anarchic glee that the Jim Abrahams/Zucker brothers collaboration had with Airplane! and the Naked Gun movies, but he gets annoyingly preoccupied with counterproductive aspects of his comedy. 

I still think of Seth as a friend who pisses off my other friends, putting me in an awkward position. His work is still a hodgepodge of comedy after my heart, brought down by forced cruelty colliding with false sentimentality. I just wish he'd stop having his characters "grow up a little" and start doing it himself.

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