REVIEW / COMEDY
TED 2 (M18)
116 minutes/Opens today/2.5/5 stars
The story: In this sequel to the 2012 hit comedy, magically alive teddy bear Ted (voiced by Seth MacFarlane) ties the knot with his girlfriend Tami-Lynn (Jessica Barth). When they try to adopt a child, they plunge straight into a bureaucratic nightmare: Ted is not legally recognised as a person. His best buddy John (Mark Wahlberg) offers outrage and emotional support, while newbie lawyer Samantha (Amanda Seyfried) fights for his rights in court.
Both Ted (2012) and Kick-Ass (2010) shared a similar premise that was a stroke of genius: Put a potty mouth that would make a grown man blush on a pint-sized cutie and let the laughs rip.
A follow-up is a trickier beast, given that audiences are already familiar with the concept and the shock value is much diminished.
The first Ted balanced the crude laughs with a sweet friendship between a man-child and his teddy bear. And that insane fight between full-grown man and furry stuffed animal was flat-out hilarious.
Ted 2 tries to top that by taking things in a more serious direction, with pointed comments about Ted being denied his rights because he is a minority and parallels drawn to slavery and gay rights.
But it does not quite work. The movie has grossed a disappointing US$32.9 million (S$44.3 million) in its opening weekend in the United States, compared with US$54.4 million for the first movie in 2012.
Not only do the somewhat tedious court proceedings take up too much time, the more mature themes also sit oddly with the juvenile humour.
There are jokes involving pornography, bodily fluids and sex acts, including a hare-brained scheme to artificially inseminate Tami-Lynn with a "contribution" from star footballer Tom Brady collected while he is asleep.
The stream of celebrity cameos - including Brady's and those from action star Liam Neeson and former talk-show host Jay Leno - cannot make up for a script that is less sharp than its predecessor's.
At least, director and co-writer Seth MacFarlane (creator of animated series Family Guy) spares viewers the image of human-toy copulation, courtesy of the fact that Ted is a regular, anatomically inaccurate stuffed animal. The song segments here feel more perfunctory as well - nothing comes close to the Thunder Buddies song, an awesome track that was robbed of an Oscar nomination.
What the movie does achieve is this: Thanks to a game and committed cast and MacFarlane's voice acting, there is no doubt that Ted is a living and breathing being. Maybe he should get a better agent.