Those familiar with Seth MacFarlane's work will know his kind of jokes by now. There's no secret that the Family Guy creator likes his gags crude, downright silly and often instilling the likely reaction of "can he get away with saying that?" from shocked cinemagoers.
Ted 2 is no exception. In fact, it seems fair to say that it goes further than any of MacFarlane's cinematic ventures so far when it comes to its on-the-mark humour, but what's different about this film is that alongside all the sex jokes, scathing cracks about Boston and nerdy pop culture references, there's an underlying heart here that the first film, now so obviously, lacked.
After Ted (voiced by MacFarlane) swiftly marries girlfriend Tami-Lynn (Jessica Barth) and for a brief few minutes consoles best friend John (Mark Wahlberg) about his divorce from Lori (played by Mila Kunis in the first movie) just to get the audience up to scratch, we jump ahead one year to find the newlyish-weds never seeing eye to eye and constantly fighting about money or their lives in general.
Saddened by their constant falling out and convinced that it will re-inject the love back into the relationship, Ted suggests to his wife that they have a baby – but, of course, a stuffed toy has some biological issues when it comes to such a task. But what starts as a farcical quest to try and obtain a baby, soon gets a reality check when after intending to adopt a child, Ted finds out that in the eyes of the law, he's nothing more than "property" and therefore cannot be granted the same privileges as real human beings.
After subsequently being sacked from his job, discovering that his marriage is invalid and that adopting a child would be illegal for him, angered Ted and his pal John decide to fight for his civil rights alongside rookie lawyer, Samantha L. Jackson (Amanda Seyfried) and try and reclaim his "personhood".
It's obvious throughout the writer-director-and-star MacFarlane isn't afraid to cross into murky territory as long as he gets a chuckle – and with almost every line, he does here. In fact, the only time the audience were silent was during a particularly stilted sketch that inarguably went down like a lead balloon. A scene which shows Saturday Night Live picking up on Ted's court-case story and satirising it on their late-night comedy show.
From Ted comparing his plight to slavery, mumbling,"that's like me", whilst watching an episode of Roots, to the uncensored bear exclaiming he's "doing it for the homos" in court and a briefly awkward mention of "the offices of Charlie Hebdo", the jokes are often controversial but shamefully, they are hilariously delivered and so-well-placed within the context of the movie that they can excuse themselves from being offensive.
Ted and John get away with it too, because they're undeniably likeable, particularly in this sequel. Both characters have done a bit of growing up since the last movie and despite all the weed-smoking really seem like they're starting to want to calm down and settle in to normal functional lives. And, of course, it helps that in reality, he's a cuddly furry bear that squeaks "I love you" when you squeeze him (awww!). Additionally, now second movie in, we know the unlikely friends well and combined with the plethora of running jokes – you're never more than two clicks away from "black c****" on the internet and most girls' pop culture knowledge is below par to say the least, you can't help but feel like you're one of the gang.
The plot feels a little safer and more maturely put together the second time round, following a more sitcom-like structure with rounded-out scenes and an arc that comes just a little too late in the whole movie for it to be called perfectly paced. There's more to the story in this one, which helps to balance out the ridiculous humour that is even more apparent in this than its predecessor. It's evident that MacFarlane is showing his slightly softer side when it comes to this one, too. Ok, so the platform is clouded in juvenile jokes and bong-usage but the creator's true feelings towards subjects such as equal rights, love, friendships and even society as a whole are there – even they are really deeply buried and followed immediately by some lewd gag.
Unlike what the posters suggest, and those who loved the bromance that made up the first film will hope to expect, Ted 2 is not so singularly about John and Ted but rather constructs itself as a small ensemble movie, made up of Wahlberg, MacFarlane and unexpectedly well-carried performances from Barth and Seyfried, who hold their own against the scene-stealing best friends. We find out so much more about Tami-Lynn and Sam than we ever did about Kunis' Lori in the first film, and it makes for the sequel's more conventional but more polished feel.
Seyfried, not seen too often in outrageous comedies such as this one, (in fact the last film she did of the sort was previous MacFarlane creation A Million Ways To Die In The West), and she provides a lot of the movie's funny scenes, albeit at her expense. Look out for the frequent references commenting on her likeness to a certain Lord Of The Rings character... they're undoubtedly some of the more 'precious' gems in the movie.
Like most MacFarlane outings, there's a smattering of high-profile celebrity faces featured throughout the 20-minutes-too-long movie including chat-show host Jay Leno, American football star Tom Brady and a completely ill-fitting but stupidly magnificent scene involving Liam Neeson and a box of Trix cereal.
Mad Men's John Slattery even makes an appearance as Seyfried's rival in the courtroom, Shep Wild and Sam L. Jones and Giovanni Ribisi return as their well-loved characters from Ted. To add even more absurdity to the mix, Oscar-winning Morgan Freeman even crops up three-quarters of the way in as charismatic, straight-talking human rights lawyer Patrick Meighan who surprisingly bounces of the group's banter well.
All of the cast play their respective parts well, but at no point do you forget that is MacFarlane's game. Ted is the star of the show this time, while Wahlberg's John merely acts as somewhat of a sidekick, but it works.
Much like the daily attitudes of leads Ted and John, Ted 2 is best enjoyed entering into the cinema not really thinking much about what is going to happen, allowing you to think only about the possible repercussions when everything is done and dusted. If you're there to have a good time and share in a laugh – you definitely will. If you're looking for something a little more brain-stimulating, then you're probably best going to see something like Mr Holmes instead.