It’s a common misconception that a sequel has to be ‘bigger and better’ by offering more of everything. I’m not sure where that came from, but it seems like Hollywood is stuck in a world where action sequels need more action, horror sequels need more scares and comedies should be more brash and ridiculous than the first.
No, guys. A sequel should strive to offer a better plot, more character development and a bigger reason to care. The first film shows us the characters, the second one should make them more three dimensional. That’s what will make a sequel ‘better’ than the original.
Ted delivers on the Hollywood ideal but fails as a great sequel. It’s very funny at times, more disgusting than its predecessor and fully embraces the ‘bigger is better’ ideal. But it lacks a strong, coherent plot. Even when we get to the so-called heartfelt ending there isn’t enough build-up from the rest of the film to evoke any real emotion.
It starts with Ted (voiced by Seth McFarlane) marrying his girlfriend from the first film, Tami-Lynn (Jesica Barth). Cut to one year later and the happiest day of his life soon devolves into marital strife as he and Tami-Lynn fight over bills, shopping and each other’s bad habits.
But all is not lost! Because this is a comedy, it’s decided that if Ted and Tami-Lynn have a child together it will heal the marriage. Also because this is a comedy things keep going wrong until it comes out that Ted is not considered a person by Massachusetts law and must go to court to fight for his legal rights. Enter Samantha L. Jackson (Amanda Seyfried), an unproven lawyer willing to work with Ted pro bono and help him win the case.
Meanwhile the subplot concerns John (Mark Wahlberg), who is slow to recover from his own divorce, still pining over his ex-wife 18 months after their separation. Nothing Ted does to try and help him seems to work and although their friendship is still the same, it bothers him that John isn’t willing to move on.
There’s actually a lot of plot shoved into the film. It felt like every idea the writers came up with was utilized. It looks coherent on paper but it’s an absolute mess on screen.
Which is a real shame because a lot of the comedic elements really deliver. There are some truly hilarious moments in the film. There’s wordplay, running gags and several celebrity cameos (Liam Neeson and Jay Leno, to name two). There are even Zucker-Abrams style visual gags.
Plus a lot of the minor characters are great. Patrick Warburton and Michael Dorn in particular are great in a few later scenes, dressed in cheap versions of characters the actors had played in previous television shows.
Yes, Ted 2 will make you laugh. It may also disgust you. But it won’t move you like the first film did.