Here’s my Cinema Knife Fight review of TED 2, which appeared at cinemaknifefight.com this past weekend.
Movie Review by Michael Arruda
(THE SCENE: A Comic Con in some big city. Amidst a crowd of enthusiastic fans dressed as their favorite superheroes, STAR TREK and STAR WARS characters, sits MICHAEL ARRUDA at a table next to the LOST IN SPACE Robot.)
MICHAEL ARRUDA: Welcome everyone to today’s Cinema Knife Fight column. No, that’s not L.L. Soares dressed as the LOST IN SPACE Robot. That’s the actual Robot!
ROBOT: It is I. The Robot! Here as a guest on Cinema Knife Fight.
MA: Happy to have you, and we’re here today because one of the scenes in today’s movie— TED 2— takes place at a Comic Con like this one, and my friend here, the LOST IN SPACE Robot, happens to be in that scene. It might be my favorite part of this movie.
ROBOT: Affirmative! I am the life of this movie.
MA: Well, I wish you were. You don’t have any lines or anything, but I was still happy to see you.
ROBOT: That’s right. I didn’t have any lines. What was my agent thinking? There just aren’t any good roles for an aging robot, these days!
MA: Well, even you couldn’t have saved this movie.
Yep, today on Cinema Knife Fight, I’m reviewing TED 2, and I’m flying solo this week because L.L. Soares had sense enough to skip this one.
I’m going to get right to the point: I hated TED 2.
ROBOT: Hate? Hate is a strong word. I advise you to avoid using it, Will Robinson.
MA: It’s okay. This isn’t a LOST IN SPACE episode. We can say hate here. And I’m not Will Robinson.
ROBOT: Of course you are not! Did I say that you were? Eh hem.
MA (to audience): I think he’s having a senior robot moment.
ROBOT: I heard that!
MA: As I was saying, I did not like TED 2 at all. It’s one of my least favorite movies of the year. Why, you ask? Well, read on!
TED 2 is the sequel to the hit movie TED (2012), the Seth MacFarlane comedy about a toy stuffed bear come to life. I was not crazy about TED, but I enjoyed the foul-mouthed talking bear, as I found him quite funny, and I enjoyed the way he interacted with his best buddy John (Mark Wahlberg). They were a hoot together. What I didn’t like about it was its story which I found to be a bore, a tale of John trying to choose between Ted and his girlfriend. Seriously? But the bear was funny.
Now comes the sequel, TED 2. Ted is now married, while John is divorced. Ted’s marriage is not going that well, so he takes a co-worker’s advice and decides he and his wife should have a baby because having children will bring a troubled couple closer together. Really? Sounds like a recipe for disaster to me.
Ted, of course, since he’s a toy bear, can’t have children, and so he and John concoct a plan to steal sperm from New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady, in a scene that is flat out weird and way too creepy to be funny. When their attempt fails, John agrees to donate his own sperm, but then Ted learns that his wife Tami-Lynn (Jessica Barth) cannot have children, so they decide to adopt. They are turned down because in the eyes of the law, Ted is not a person and so he can’t adopt a child.
They decide to take Ted’s case to court, to have the legal system declare him a person, and so they hire a young attorney Samantha (Amanda Seyfried) to take on the case. The rest of the movie follows their efforts to have Ted declared a person, and they have to overcome one obstacle after another, including the return of Donny (Giovanni Ribisi), the psycho from the first movie who was obsessed with Ted, and he’s back again, still trying to tear Ted away from John.
So, why isn’t TED 2 funny?
I don’t think I have time in one review to list all the reasons.
Let’s start with the humor. It’s pretty much the lowest common denominator of humor. Drug jokes, bathroom jokes, and sex jokes, and as for the rest, it is simply not creative enough to get laughs. It’s almost as if Seth MacFarlane thinks his reputation at being a “bad boy in comedy” is enough. If he’s vulgar and shocking enough, everything else will fall into place. Well, it’s not enough. The jokes have to be funny, and in this movie, they are not. And that’s the number one problem with TED 2. It’s simply not funny.
There are jokes galore. They’re nonstop, which makes the fact that the film didn’t make me laugh all the more amazing.
The film tries to be creative with its humor, and there’s plenty of star power here, but oddly none of it works. There’s a cameo with Liam Neeson shopping at the supermarket discussing with Ted if it’s okay for him to eat Trix breakfast cereal since he’s not a kid. Trix are for kids, get it? Ha Ha. Not. I think I laughed when I first saw Neeson because of the potential this scene had, but then it went nowhere.
(LIAM NEESON walks by the table.)
NEESON: I understand you didn’t like my cameo.
ROBOT (Points to MA): He didn’t. I liked it just fine.
MA: No. I didn’t like it. I’m surprised you even did it.
NEESON: I have bills to pay.
MA: Don’t we all.
NEESON: Maybe you would have liked it better if we used a different cereal. Fruit Loops, maybe.
MA: Follow your nose.
NEESON: Are you making fun of my nose?
MA: No. It’s the line from the Fruit Loops commercials with Toucan Sam.
NEESON: You might want to be careful with what you say. I put the last guy who criticized me in the hospital.
ROBOT: Danger! Danger, Will Robinson!
NEESON: Just sayin. (Exits.)
MA: Don’t sweat it, Robot. He’ll get over it.
Anyway, then there’s the conclusion at Comic Con. This sequence should have been hilarious. It includes a slapstick fight in which fans dressed as comic book and science fiction characters duke it out, and so we see the Lost in Space Robot tangle with a Dalek from Dr. Who, superheroes and Star Trek characters going at it, and even Godzilla gets in on the act. It’s a geek’s dream! But it’s not funny.
Patrick Warburton returns from the first movie, once again playing Guy, and in this film Michael Dorn (Worf from STAR TREK: THE NEXT GENERATION) plays his gay lover. There’s a gag in the Comic Con sequence where Warburton dresses as The Tick (the title character he played in the short-lived TV series in the early 2000s) and Dorn dresses as Worf, and they go around the convention tripping people and pouring drinks on them all the while insulting them. This is supposed to be humorous. It’s not. It’s painfully unfunny!
(WORF approaches.) WORF: It is not honorable for a Klingon to poke fun at himself!
MA: So, you saw TED 2?
WORF: TED 2? What is that?
ROBOT: TED 2 is an American comedy written and directed by Seth MacFarlane. It stars Mark Wahlberg and—.
WORF: Enough! I do not care about such trivial matters as motion pictures!
MA: So, what were you talking about when you said Klingon’s shouldn’t poke fun at themselves?
WORF: I was talking about him! (Points to a Klingon performing Karaoke in front of an audience). He is a disgrace!
MA: Yup. He can’t hold a tune to save his life, but he’s not really a Klingon. He’s a fan dressed as a Klingon.
WORF: Klingons do not have fans! We have adversaries and enemies! (Exits.)
ROBOT: He suffers from a maladjusted disposition. In short, he’s a grump!
MA: I’m going to continue now with the review.
In the first film, Mark Wahlberg and Ted were funny together. They’re not here. All the jokes seem rehashed. I like Mark Wahlberg a lot. It was painful to watch him play this role.
Likewise, I’m a big Amanda Seyfried fan, and again, it was excruciating to see her play this awful role. In one scene for example she’s reduced to smoking pot from a bong shaped like a penis. Speaking of penises, there’s a running gag about them in this film which has to do with internet searches and what pops up whenever you do a search on the internet. All I kept thinking is this is the best a guy like Seth MacFarlane could come up with?
It gets worse.
We have to see lots of scenes where Ted argues with his wife Tami-Lynn, and she throws things at him and swears at him nonstop with her South Boston accent. She’s reduced to a bad stereotype, and these scenes are also painful to watch.
Sam Jones, Flash Gordon himself is back from the first movie, only this time his scenes are as funny as Ming the Merciless. Also back from the first movie is Bill Smitrovich as Ted’s boss Frank. In the first film, Smitrovich’s scenes were a highlight and were laugh-out loud funny. He’s reduced to one scene in the sequel, and it’s a straight scene, no comedy or jokes involved. Really?
Giovanni Ribisi is back again as psycho Donny. A lot of people liked Donny in the first film. I thought his subplot was the worst part of the first movie. In TED 2 Donny is still out to get Ted, and I still don’t care.
Even Morgan Freeman shows up. What are all these people doing in this movie? Does Seth MacFarlane have compromising photographs of these folks?
Freeman delivers a dramatic courtroom monologue about why Ted should be considered a person. Now we get to one of the most insulting parts of TED 2, the parallels that this movie makes between Ted’s plight and the civil rights movement.
Are we supposed to take this story about Ted seriously? Absolutely not, which to me, makes the references in this movie to the plight of those fighting for equal rights throughout history, offensive. Well, maybe offensive is too strong a word, but it just rubbed me the wrong way. TED 2 as a vehicle for social commentary is like having Jim Carrey and Jeff Daniels as the poster boys for special education. No.
Only John Slattery from TV’s MAD MEN comes out okay. Slattery plays a smooth talking winner-take-all district attorney, and he plays the role straight. He has his one scene and pretty much makes sense as he makes his case convincingly as to why Ted is not a person. Slattery might be the only person in this movie who doesn’t embarrass himself.
And regarding the “star” of this one, Ted the Bear, the CGI creation performed by Seth MacFarlane, he was my favorite part of the first movie, but sadly, he’s nowhere near as funny the second time around. In fact, I found him flat out annoying in this sequel.
I did something during TED 2 I hardly ever do in a movie. I found myself looking at my watch, and I was shocked to see that only one hour had gone by. It felt like two. Worse, TED 2 is a two hour movie, and so there was still yet another agonizing hour to go.
TED 2 was written and directed by Seth MacFarlane, and Alec Sulkin and Wellesley Wild also contributed to the screenplay. It gives me no pleasure to write negatively about other people’s work, but there’s not much positive I can say about this one. It all comes down to laughter. And I simply didn’t laugh during this movie.
One thing I did like about this movie is a large chunk of it takes place in Boston, and the shots of Boston look good. But I can drive to Boston on my own and don’t need a movie to show me how good it looks.
Want to watch a funny movie that mixes humor with vulgarity and off color jokes? Watch an old Mel Brooks movie instead.
I give it half a knife.
And it gets half a knife because I like both Mark Wahlberg and Amanda Seyfried, and also because I can’t give a movie which features an appearance by the LOST IN SPACE Robot 0 knives, no matter how bad it is.
And at half a knife, that makes TED 2 the worst movie I’ve seen this year.
Okay, Robot, we’re done here. I think I’ll take a stroll and browse around.
ROBOT: A good idea. May I browse around with you?
MA: Sure. Come along. It’ll be fun.
ROBOT: We are going to browse around.
MA: Come on, Robot. I see some cool LOST IN SPACE merchandise over there. Let’s check it out.
ROBOT: This is going to be surreal.