Return of the bear

Ted 2 is homophobic, transphobic, racephobic, joggerphobic, nerdphobic, sex workerphobic – almost precisely in that order. Seth McFarlane’s work is relentlessly phobic but he has made a film about civil rights at the high point of a historic social gay rights movement. How odd this comedy thing is sometimes.

The movie is on point, even appropriate considering Ted 2 releases – by sheer coincidence – the same week gay marriage is legalized in the United States. Vulgar bear Ted is belittled as non-human, degraded and labeled as a product in order to set up a miniscule story base for this sequel. It’s almost too poignant… in a film with 347 f-bombs, parody scenes acting as pot delivery systems, and Tom Brady’s glowing testicles.

Much of Ted 2 is pointless. It’s too long. There’s a courtroom scene, taking place in every movie courtroom ever without the slightest irony or observation as to this situation, deadening the film at the midway point. A (probably) $10 million song and dance opening credits sequence is gluttonous. A run-in with Star Wars cosplayers is the film running on its most empty. Returning John (Mark Wahlberg) and Ted (still McFarlane) make up lyrics to Law & Order’s theme song – for reasons. Ted 2 is more an overlong Family Guy non-sequitur than it is a feature film. Peter Jackson is a better editor.


This is old too. Ted tells the story of a children’s toy come to life, only it grows up like most anti-adult men do. That’s the joke. Or rather, it’s STILL the joke, now plastered between a cavalcade of overt, not even careful product placements splashing throughout the finale’s setting of New York Comic Con. That the sniveling Hasbro executive has a plan to clone Ted and sell him could say something about the obliviousness of corporate America (you think the film has enough f-bombs with one Ted…), but Ted 2 is not that quick to pick up on things.

Ted 2 is not a film fond of letting something go. It always makes things even.

But, Ted 2 happens to be funny. McFarlane knows his audience. He toys with them. He makes them wait. That’s why scenes are overlong. That’s why they’re pointless. That’s why they’re funny. Ted 2 is definitely cruel, offensive and mean if taken certain ways, directly anyway. Look at the list which started this piece. Each one is true.

It’s awkward, sure. Ted 2 features a running gag where stereotypical nerds are battered by bullies at Comic Con. The film is punishing the very thing it intends to use to make a profit. Same with the volley of gay-centric penis jokes and sperm counts. They never stop. Ted 2 is not a film fond of letting something go, however. It always makes things even.


Of course the satire fails. Frequently too. And the story is messy, coming and going as the film needs it to until the obvious non-twist happy ending. In no way is this follow-up as smooth as the uproariously stupid original. It needs ceaseless cameos and far, far too many current references. Finding them all is a drinking game, from the obvious (Jurassic Park) to the subtle (Contact), and that’s only a single scene.

Justin Bieber, the Kardashians; those gags are, well, ugh.

Ted 2… is a sly, socially conscious… think piece? Does such a film count?

But, Ted 2 is still funny. Let the statement be reiterated. It works. Unconventionally at times, but the successes are there. McFarlane is often critically berated for his vicious R-rated crudeness, yet In-between the poop jokes – and Ted 2 has ’em – is a sly, socially conscious… think piece? Does such a film count? People react to comedy now. They form movements around it. A generation doesn’t have Kronkite. They have John Stewart and John Oliver. Hell, this film has a John too. Maybe it’s a John thing.

Whatever the case, Ted 2 spits up a voracious, sometimes digestible lark about American consciousness with the mindset of mid 20-somethings. This is their news. This is their freeing, adaptable thought process (indecently affable as it is) projected onto screens. Were the film not sheer lunacy, the idiocy of an anti-civil rights side as seen through the eyes of a toy bear and his stoner musclehead partner would not work. It’s extreme perspective. South Park does it too for the same young, liberally-minded audience, and generally in the same way.


Like it or not, f-bombs are reaching people, bleeped on cable or set free in cinemas. Sometimes the viewpoint of a teddy bear makes things easier to understand. Jokes do, certainly. Uncomfortable ones? Maybe. If it’s uncomfortable though, the laughs come only because it’s uncomfortable. Those jokes are recognized for what they are. That sense of clarity is important. Blazing Saddles did that best in regards to racism. Ted 2 is trying the same with an identical approach, riffing on the hate while being a recipient, albeit nowhere near as successful as Mel Brooks. Subtly does matter, at least a little.

Ted 2 was never set to be a film of facts anyway. A lampooning of Fox News is a landmine to sensible conversation, but sensible is not what Ted is for. The film exists to show one side as old, crotchety, and blinded by bigotry. Over and over and over and over. Those involved in the multitude of -phobias are idiots, even John. Ted as well. Sensitive as the issues are, it helps to laugh.

Of course, the audience who needs to see their hate displayed in such a way won’t even view Ted 2. It’s narcissistic and pandering in a way. Those are not negatives, though. In this case, they’re reinforcing right. [xrr rating=4/5 label=Movie]


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