Seth MacFarlane’s sequel to his 2012 comedy about a workaday Bostonian, John (Mark Wahlberg), and his relationship to a foul-mouthed, pot-smoking teddy bear (MacFarlane) is a redundant showcase for its maker’s racy, dick-centric sense of humor. After Ted marries his girlfriend, Tammi Lynn (Jessica Barth), in the wake of John’s divorce, things quickly go sour for the couple. Nothing that a child can’t fix, and following a barely amusing attempt at gathering Tom Brady’s seed, Ted finds out that he’s technically “property” and cannot legally adopt or father a child. In the ensuing calamity, which includes Hasbro attempting to kidnap and replicate him, the surly bear compares himself both to African-Americans and “the homos” in making his argument that he has the right to be a parent and a person.
Which is to say that Ted 2 aspires to political provocation, except MacFarlane’s considerations of modern civil liberties feel heavy-handed, playing second fiddle to the sheer weight of his comedy’s largely D-grade shock value. The screenplay, co-written by MacFarlane, Alec Sulkin, and Wellesley Wild, evinces a herky-jerky structure throughout, with every bout of wild comic energy curtly followed up by a political harangue or lazy stretch of exposition. This continues as Ted takes his fight to court, hiring Samantha (Amanda Seyfried), a pothead defense attorney fresh out of college, to represent him as his case hits the national stage—a turn of events that seems to exist for no other reason than to justify a cameo by Morgan Freeman.
Ultimately, MacFarlane’s woefully simplistic examination of the fight for civil rights diffuses whatever comic brio the film manages to drum up through a few kinetic stretches of physical humor and small but meticulous gags that are thoughtfully revealing of character insecurities, as in the tiny nuances of speech that MacFarlane gives Ted when the bear corrects himself or admits to a mistake. MacFarlane’s rapid-fire juvenilia is so distinctly infuriating because, when he slows down and enacts a good physical bit or a personal tic in his delivery, he reveals a genuinely inventive and well-honed comedic mind.