His talents are undeniable, as is his work ethic. Still, many find Seth MacFarlane’s work immature and distasteful. And they have a point.

Ted 2


C-
Universal Pictures
Rave 20 and Quality 16

2012 was the year of that MacFarlane, a long-time television cartoon writer most famous for his brainchild “Family Guy,” made the jump to the big screen with “Ted,” the story of a drug-fueled, womanizing children’s-toy-come-to-life. The film did not need a sequel. “Ted 2” is playing in a theater near you.

After a lengthy dance number in the vein of Broadway, the story opens at Ted’s (MacFarlane) wedding to Tami-Lynn (Jessica Barth, “Get Smart”). A wonderful moment for Ted, his thunder buddy for life, John (Mark Wahlberg, “Boogie Nights”) brings the mood down with talk of his divorce. As Ted tries to get John back in the game, he discovers for himself that married life isn’t happily-ever-after. When Ted and Tami-Lynn’s attempt to adopt a child calls Ted’s citizenship into question, the bear and his buddy have a lawsuit on their hands in the fight for Ted’s Civil Rights.

This quest leads them into the counsel of Samantha (Amanda Seyfried, “Les Misérables”), a recent law school grad and pothead. Seyfried isn’t asked to do much — her character is a dream girl that doesn’t come with any of the needy girlfriend baggage that drove the first film’s plot — but she does sing, and she sings well (though the song doesn’t quite fit in the movie).

“Ted 2” takes a while to decide on a central plot, and still takes detours after it does. And that’s fine for a film that emphasizes comedy over conflict. The problem is, the jokes aren’t very good: The visual gags include John covered in semen and Ted ripping a penis bong; “witty” one-liners are often obvious quips about smoking pot; there are plenty of celebrity cameos, but the execution lacks, especially in Jay Leno’s bathroom handjob bit.

While the central conflict is a fight for Civil Rights, use of black culture in “Ted 2” doesn’t seem to fit the progressive agenda set forth by the film’s ideas. A black judge connects with Ted over soulful music, a large black woman gives Ted motherly advice at work … and that’s about it, except for Morgan Freeman’s cameo at the end. The exception to this is Michael Dorn (“Star Trek: The Next Generation”) as Rick, the new boyfriend of John’s boss. The couple’s Comic-Con hobby is one of the few jokes that hits its mark.

However, no one can deny that the film has some heart. The love between Ted and John still shines through; even in the moments when their antics aren’t so amusing, their brotherly bond makes the scene worth watching. Unfortunately, heart doesn’t outweigh cheap humor, flat characters and a run-time that’s 20 minutes too long.

If you’re a big fan of Seth MacFarlane, then you’ll likely enjoy “Ted 2.” If you’re not, you still might. But the odds are against it.

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