I have been working as a film journalist since 2010, dividing the first four years between radio broadcasting and entertainment writing in the Dallas-Fort Worth metroplex. In 2014, I entered Fresh Fiction (FreshFiction.tv) as the features editor. The following year, I stepped into the film critic position at the Denton Record-Chronicle, a daily North Texas print publication. My time is dedicated to writing theatrical film reviews, at-home entertainment columns, and conducting interviews with on-screen talent and filmmakers, as well as hosting a podcast devoted to genre filmmaking (called My Bloody Podcast). I've been married for seven happy years, and I have one son who is all about dinosaurs just like his dad.
Preston Barta // Features Editor
After years of working in television, there has been a lot of hemming and hawing going on in comedy pioneer Seth MacFarlane’s career. His popular shows FAMILY GUY, AMERICAN DAD! and THE CLEVELAND SHOW all started off rather strong, but after awhile they lost some heat. I guess when you bust out so many episodes you’re bound to run out of fresh ideas. But then, MacFarlane made TED (2012), the hit film that proved that his brand of comedy could work on the big screen. It showed his fans that he was completely capable of taking on a narrative, keeping us entertained throughout, and stocking it with funny gags and references.
Sadly, however, MacFarlane didn’t carry the same humor over to his sophomore film, A MILLION WAYS TO DIE IN THE WEST (2014), which could be summed up by its one scene involving Neil Patrick Harris, a hat, and some explosive diarrhea. So, you can’t blame fans, like myself, for feeling a little uneasy when the TED 2 announcement came. But, while the sequel has its dumb and humorless jabs from time-to-time, it surprisingly keeps the fun going.
The storyline here is Ted (MacFarlane) and his newlywed wife, Tami-Lynn (Jessica Barth) want to have a baby, but in order to qualify as parents, Ted will have to prove he’s a person in a court of law. But really, none of this really matters because you have a swearing teddy bear in the picture. So when stuff happens you just go with it.
The one thing that does matter is the jokes. Some, yes, do fall flat, like one involving Ted’s thunder buddy, John (Mark Wahlberg), disposing of his porn infested computer in the ocean. However, the nature of many of the jokes is that they exist in a vacuum and a lot of the times aren’t related to what’s going on, but the references actually tie into the plot, such as the Flash Gordon (Sam J. Jones) bits and one particular tune that is played while the gang discover a field of pot. That said, some of the best jokes and references will resonate on a personal level. So, if you can handle the crude humor within the web that MacFarlane spins here, make sure you see it with a big audience or group of friends. You’re sure to laugh really hard at times when they don’t and vice versa.
As you probably gathered from the trailers, Mila Kunis is out this round (due to her pregnancy at the time with Ashton Kutcher), but Amanda Seyfried makes a great addition to the story as Samantha, a pro bono lawyer who loves her pot. There’s even a ongoing joke with her character that will have many audiences rolling in their seats, but I don’t want to steal the film’s thunder by revealing what it is.
Yet for all its shenanigans, the amount of heart and sincerity is staggering. TED 2 may not be as charming as the first, but it still manages to make you smile and laugh. So who cares when the movie goes down odd rabbit holes, starts off with a kind of silly musical number (like the FAMILY GUY opening), and repeats jokes from the first. If it makes you laugh and your time doesn’t feel wasted, then that’s all that matters.
TED 2 opens tonight at 8 p.m. in particpating theaters, and everywhere tomorrow.