Thursday, June 25, 2015

Review: "Ted 2"

The line between television and the movies has gotten blurrier, but it's still there.

Even with grander ambitions, big budgets and a show spanning nine weeks being dubbed a "season," television is just a fundamentally different medium than movies.

One of the chief ways is pacing. TV starts and stops -- a lot. Aside from the episodic nature of, well, episodes, you've got all those commercials and credits. Plus no one thinks anything of hitting the pause button to get a snack, or starting a show one day and finishing it a week later.

With movies, you're required to invest in the experience. You're locked in, and there shouldn't be room for distraction. So when a film can't find a stable rhythm, it ends up throwing off the audience, too.

"Ted 2," like its predecessor, is a schizophrenic flick that goes a million miles a minute one moment, then slows down to an aching crawl the next. It's got some really funny bits, spaced pretty far apart, but also some strangely treacly parts and even some stuff that's intended to be inspiring.

This, in a movie where the main characters visits a sperm donation clinic, one of them stumbles into some samples and gets doused in... uh, manly fluids.

Watching it is a whiplash experience. You never quite know where the movie's going to go next, so when a moment arrives you kind of brace for impact, wondering whether you're supposed to laugh or go, "Awwww."

You know the story: Ted, a teddy bear who came alive through the power of a child's wish, grew up into a profane little fuzzy dude who likes to smoke bongs and say the f-word a lot. He hangs with his human best buddy Johnny (Mark Wahlbeg), and they get high a lot and talk crudely about women, gays, minorities, etc.

This go-round there's a question about Ted's standing as a person. When he and his Boston tramp wife, Tami-Lynn (Jessica Barth), try to adopt a kid -- Ted lacks the pertinent parts to father one himself -- he loses his legal status, his job and his mojo. They get a lawyer and go to court, with Amanda Seyfried playing the young attorney who takes their case and gets doe-eyed with Johnny.

Seth MacFarlane, who co-wrote, directed and does the voice of Ted, is a pretty brilliant and brilliantly successful TV guy -- "Family Guy," "American Dad," etc. He instinctively gets the medium, its history and its foibles. But he seems determined to segue into movies, despite lacking a knack for it.

Oh, I know, I know... the first "Ted" made a half-billion dollars at the box office and earned him a gig hosting the Oscars. Popularity and accomplishment aren't the same thing.

At a tick under two hours the movie is way too long, and plenty of sections seem like filler. At several points "Ted 2" unabashedly steals scenes from other, better movies like "Planes, Trains and Automobiles" and "The Breakfast Club." Maybe they're supposed to be homages, but they come across as self-indulgent and unnecessary.

You will laugh at "Ted 2," but you will also be bored. I kept wanting to fast-forward, but it's the wrong kind of screen.

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