“Ted 2,” Seth MacFarlane’s amicus brief in Obergefell v. Hodges, picks up a few years after the original 2012 Mark Wahlberg comedy.
Ted, the degenerate bong-smoking, tall-boy chugging, come-to-life Teddy Ruxpin, has just married his co-worker Tami-Lynn (Jessica Barth) in a solemn church ceremony officiated by a vestmented Sam “Flash Gordon” Jones.
A year later, though, when the couple tries to adopt a child, the government steps in and declares that the polyblend-stuffed fellow is not a “person” and therefore not only cannot adopt but cannot be married either. Consequently, the Commonwealth of Massachusetts annuls the marriage. On top of that, President Barack Obama’s Department of Labor gets him fired from his job as a grocery checker.
So Ted and his “Thunder Buddy” John (Wahlberg) do what anyone else who thinks they’ve been wronged does: they lawyer up. Taking their case pro bono is newly minted litigator Samantha Jackson (Amanda Seyfried), who doesn’t fare well in her first trial. Love wins on appeal, though, when they convince a legendary civil rights attorney (Morgan Freeman, I know, I know, what is he doing here?) to fight for their cause.
But whether MacFarlane is impudent, prophetic or just trying to help moviegoers evolve on the issue of marriage equality by leveraging his unique brand of over-the-top humor depends on where you stand. Then again, maybe we read too much into these things, and MacFarlane is just going for laughs.
And there are laughs — many of them nervous ones, though, unlike the director’s last film, 2014’s “A Million Ways to Die in the West.” Here, I only cringed once (twice if you count the fiasco at the artificial insemination clinic).
Advocating for “personhood,” Ted’s lawyer reminds the jury that his struggle is reminiscent of Dred Scott’s, thus, later when the three are commiserating at their apartment and a scene from “Roots” in which Kunta Kinte is being whipped plays on their TV, Ted remarks, “That’s exactly what I’m going through.” That brand of exaggeration is popular in some camps, but I found the comparison offensive.
Yet, “offensive” is precisely the draw for most MacFarlane fans, and he doesn’t disappoint here. Especially fun is a Liam Neeson cameo where the “Taken” actor covertly asks in his trademark gravelly voice whether the box of Trix he would like to buy is, in fact, “exclusively for children” as he’s heard and if that “is enforced by law.”
Hearty laughs, but if you weren’t a fan of the original “Ted,” don’t even think of seeing this one.
Med City Movie Guy’s rating: 3 Honks
Hollywood’s always been a place for fantasy and forward thinking. Where else could a streetwalker find the billionaire of her dreams (“Pretty Woman”), an animated hare have for a wife a sexy human matinee bombshell (“Who Framed Roger Rabbit”), and a creepy outcast carry on an ostensibly platonic relationship with a rat named Socrates (“Willard”)? And then there are these once-improbable cinematic relationships:
“Lars and the Real Girl” (2007). Ryan Gosling carries-on a relationship with a blow-up doll, but the film doesn’t get weird until the whole town starts indulging him.
“King Kong” (1933). The eighth wonder of the world goes ape for Fay Wray, and before it’s over, she has feelings for him, too. Sadly, he gives his life batting-away paparazzi biplanes before falling to his death. “It was beauty that killed the beast … that, or the pavement.”
“Splash” (1984). Tom Hanks falls in love with a mermaid (Daryl Hannah) in this Ron Howard romcom, but the Department of Fish and Game refuses to issue them a marriage license.
“The Bride of Frankenstein” (1935). Transylvanian abominations deserve love too, and wouldn’t their children be gorgeous? OK, maybe not, but I still can’t get the image of Boris Karloff throwing Elsa Lanchester’s garter belt to wedding revelers that include Igor out of my head.
“Mannequin” (1987). Department store window decorator Andrew McCarthy falls in love with one of the mannequins who comes to life (Kim Cattrall). That’s the story he’s telling H.R., anyway.