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Blu-ray Review

DVD cover

Ted & Ted 2
Thunder Buddies Collection


Starring: Mark Wahlberg, Mila Kunis, Seth MacFarlane and Amanda Seyfried
Distributor: Fabulous Films Ltd / Fremantle Media Enterprises
RRP: £39.99

Certificate: 15
Release Date: 09 November 2020

Mark Wahlberg is one of the few action stars who can handle drama that cuts to the quick without cutting to the chase. Don’t get me wrong he can make a chase scene wild, believable and hair raising but he can also deliver pathos of a Shakespearean resonance. What did I just say? But it’s true. He’s as good as Brando ever was and when he’s in action mode, he carries all that baggage of complexity in the fight, the foot chase or behind the steering wheel. See a favourite of mine, Spencer Confidential (2020) reviewed on these pages. Standing face to face, up close and personal with the crafty likes of DiCaprio, Sheen and Baldwin, he’s a one man band of linguistic onslaught, remember The Departed (2006)

So it’s with all this in mind that we must be reminded the actor can do comedy. Not very often does he get the chance to go beyond momentary comedic relief in a balls to the wall action film but when given the chance, he is adroit, subtle, human, wonderfully flawed and passionate to a Don Quixote level. He’s good and he delivers the goods from smile, to groan, to chuckle, to hoot and gut wrenching belly laugh. The full doctoral dissertation. This is what we have with Ted and Ted 2 .

When comedy wizard Seth MacFarlane sent him the script, Wahlberg said he read thirty five pages and knew it would either be an amazing pancake on the runway or a soaring success. Ted cost fifty million and grossed five hundred world wide. Ted 2 cost sixty eight million and grossed under two hundred million. The aggregate price/earnings ratio is better than any Star Wars item from Kathleen Kennedy. Take that on behalf of a teddy bear who can talk. And curse. And drink beer and smoke weed. And nearly beat the sh*te out of Mark Wahlberg.

The extras ladled out on both DVD and Blu-ray editions are themselves funny and fun. The makers get to share material that’s always laugh-inducing as well as insightful into how great artists work and what makes them great in the first place. Being funny is not just an act, it’s an essence of personality popping out into the dismal world of daily life. And in spite of it. The added extras in the Thunder Buddies double-double make it my choice. Oh, you can get a lot of extras with the solo double disc editions, but there’s more icing on the cake here.

All this said, I wish I could say Ted was better than it is. Jokes there are aplenty. But belly laughs are thin. Conceptual word play is ingenious but the paint by numbers narrative is disingenuous. Jokes are delivered with gusto but the end result is ho-hum. There are only so many gender, turd, fart, social status, male bonding quips before it all gets tired and repetitious. MaCfarlane is the best there is but this is not his best. To tell anything about the jeopardies would spoil the whole Hasbro store shelf. Celebrity humour is resorted to when all else fails. It’s fun to see Sam Jones of Flash Gordon (1980) and Wahlberg’s fantasy flight with Jones on his rocket sled is about my favourite part of all the shenanigans. Jones was a bonding totem for the two friends. Meeting him older and coke ridden is both funny and not.

After The Irishman, (2020) the CGI and motion control of the teddy bear is underwhelming. It’s a kind hearted picture, I’ll give it that.



The sequel, Ted 2 (2015) cost more money but didn’t deliver as much boxoffice. There was an attempt to create more complexity to Ted’s gymnastics and thereby complicate jeopardy.

John and Lori have gotten divorced. Ted is getting married. Sam Jones officiates again as he did in the finale of the first movie (oops, that could be a spoiler, shoot me) but the real springboard here is Ted and Tami Lynn (Jessica Barth) hosting a ballroom wedding dance that is one of the biggest dance numbers Hollywood has seen in decades. It truly harks back to Busby Berkeley classics and gives the movie a hopeful lift off.

One year later Ted and Tami-Lynn are fighting over money, sex and disappointment. He and John commiserate. Ted discovers a plethora of porn on John’s laptop and advises John they must bust up the lap top and dump it in the harbour. Busting up hard drives was on the cusp of newsworthiness so this is what I call prescient comedy. Former Congressman Anthony Weiner, I guess, wouldn’t think it was that funny.

Ted needs a sperm donor. Sam Jones won’t do it, so they try football legend Tom Brady. This involves, well, ahem, sneaking into Brady’s bedroom wherein the sight of his endowment is a déjà vu experience when Wahlberg played porn star Dirk Diggler in Boogie Nights (1997) and he wore a prosthetic proboscis - the joke being that this time the trunk is on the other star. MacFarlane’s conceptual humour applied to raunch shows a certain genius for awhile but seems to meander in Act II. After these failures at getting a sperm donor for Ted, John volunteers. That’s what friends are for, right? The donor sequence is a gross out nightmare - and grossly funny.

A legal crisis results when Ted is defined as “not a person”. The State of Massachusetts annuls his marriage to Tami-Lynn. It’s a civil rights case par excellence. Samantha, their pro-bono attorney (Amanda Seyfried) bonds with them by bonging and discussing the War on Drugs for a message moment. The argument for Ted is he has the same rights as everyone else regardless of his difference. Ted and John watch a rerun of Roots (1977) and sharpen their respect for the rights denied despite the Bill of Rights.

All in all, I came to appreciate this sequel more than the first movie because of its thought provoking attitude. “Is Ted a human being or a piece of property?” Samantha cites Dred Scott of a hundred and fifty years ago and her erudition is exquisite. Not since the courtroom battle of Tarzan Goes to New York (1944) have inalienable rights for a fantasy character been so clearly argued. MaCfarlane is strong here, substantive and all the while funny. What makes a person a person? It was the question asked in Spielberg’s masterwork A.I. (2001) The answer is open ended. Ted wants us to know he can reason and feel as well as we think we can. He is aware of his own consciousness.

This was probably too cerebral for some audiences which is why the movie did less than half the business as its predecessor. I’m not pulling intellectual hoity toityness here but I liked it more than its predecessor. John saves Ted from a terrible mishap and is himself left hanging by a thread. Altruism for the other is given full regard. Who do they get to speak for Ted, his reality, his commitment to his personhood? Morgan Freeman, of course. MaCfarlane rests his case. Ted 2 makes Ted worth having. That’s why I say, buy both.


John Huff

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