Arts

Grin and bear it: Ted 2 padded out with fluff

Family Guy creator Seth MacFarlane has another crack at the big screen with a follow-up to his 2012 hit Ted but it leaves Damon Smith feeling as if he's had the stuffing knocked out of him

Ted, voiced by Seth MacFarlane, isn't half as cute as his creator thinks he is

TED 2 (15, 116 mins) Comedy/Romance/Action. Mark Wahlberg, Amanda Seyfried, Jessica Barth, John Slattery, Giovanni Ribisi, Morgan Freeman, Patrick Warburton, Michael Dorn, Cocoa Brown and the voice of Seth MacFarlane. Director: Seth MacFarlane.

RATING: TWO STARS

IN 2012, writer-director Seth MacFarlane's mismatched buddy comedy Ted was a surprise hit. Man's best friend wasn't a dog after all – it was a potty-mouthed, talking teddy with a penchant for beer, bongs and scantily clad ladies.

Sadly, the bear necessities of modern life don't stretch to a second film because Ted 2 is padded with as much fluff as the huggable hero. The sequel is a vast improvement on MacFarlane's previous film, A Million Ways To Die In The West, but even root canal treatment would be preferable to a repeat viewing of that tumbleweed spoof.

The sweetness and romance, which distinguished the original Ted, have been diluted to the point of blandness here and a climactic set piece at a pop culture convention is an unsightly mess.

Direction plods without any urgency and politically incorrect, gross-out interludes are laced with malice. Between the frequent yawns, MacFarlane conjures moments of magic – new love interest Amanda Seyfried's a cappella rendition of Mean Ol' Moon; a bizarre yet hilarious cameo by Liam Neeson – but these are fleeting.

Ted 2 opens with John Bennett (Mark Wahlberg) divorced from Lori (Mila Kunis) and fur ball companion Ted (voiced by McFarlane) poised to walk down the aisle with a brassy checkout girl called Tami-Lynn (Jessica Barth). One year later, the honeymoon is over and Ted and Tami-Lynn are arguing incessantly.

Ted's supermarket co-worker (Cocoa Brown) passes on a nugget of her wisdom: "You better have a baby or your marriage is over". The bear lacks the necessary appendage to impregnate Tami-Lynn, so he hatches a plot to steal the sperm of American football legend Tom Brady (playing himself).

The bear-brained scheme misfires and Ted and Tami-Lynn approach an adoption agency. Their application is red flagged because the state of Massachusetts recognises Ted as a piece of property not a person. Soon after, the bear loses his job and the marriage is annulled.

"We take this all the way to Judge Judy if we have to," bellows John and the pals head to court with idealistic attorney Samantha L Jackson (Amanda Seyfried) to uphold Ted's civil rights.

Ted 2 runs on empty in terms of originality, relying entirely on our affection for the characters to sustain interest. Wahlberg trades lacklustre banter with his computer-generated pal and there's an absence of on-screen chemistry with Seyfried.

A running gag about her facial similarity to a character from The Lord Of The Rings develops a stitch before its punchline, while fleeting appearances from John's gay co-worker (Patrick Warburton) and his boyfriend (Michael Dorn) are superfluous.

At a critical juncture in the court case, Ted activates the voicebox in his chest and sweetly trills, "I love you!" Regrettably, it's impossible to feel similarly enamoured with MacFarlane's sequel.

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