Comedy requires originality. It’s as simple as that.
There’s absolutely not a single shred of originality in “Ted 2,” an amalgamation of leftover “Family Guy” setups, hokey premises and half-hearted humor that leaves viewers disappointed from the outset.
Honestly, “Ted 2” shouldn’t come as much of a surprise to those who’ve followed the career trajectory of Seth MacFarlane, the mastermind (and vocal talent) behind the cult classic “Family Guy.”
After being left for the television scrap heap, “Family Guy” viewers brought the fledgling, but hysterical comedy back from the dead and vaulted MacFarlane to semi-stardom, where he used his Hollywood connections to make “Ted,” a raunchy and raucous comedy about what happens if a stuffed teddy bear comes to live and basically follows the career path of Justin Bieber.
The inevitable sequel, released last weekend, goes so far as to outright call Ted out as becoming another Bieber, because with “Ted 2,” subtlety is thrown out the window.
Within the first five minutes, it seems pretty evident that director/writer Seth MacFarlane and his co-writers Alec Sulkin and Wellesley Wild were probably stoned while penning a subpar follow-up to the 2012 hit comedy “Ted.”
Like a bad episode of “Family Guy,” “Ted 2” jumps all over the map stylistically, romping its way through musical revue, buddy comedy, romantic comedy and action spoof without any semblance of direction.
MacFarlane, taking his third turn behind the director’s chair after “Ted” and “A Million Ways to Die in the West,” continues to prove why early “Family Guy” and the original “Ted” seem more and more like comedic flukes than the norm.
Stoner comedies often work, but as proven time and again by Seth Rogen, James Franco and the rest of Judd Apatow’s merry band of misfit actors, originality is key.
There’s no mad rush to make “Pineapple Express 2” or “NO, This Is The End.”
These top comedians go out of their way to make something new and original, — Rogen with his role as Wozniak in the upcoming Steve Jobs biopic, Apatow directing the Amy Schumer-led “Trainwreck” and Franco with no less than six independent films coming out in 2015 — because that’s ultimately what’s best for audiences.
Mark Wahlberg, who consistently proves he’s more than game to handle his fair share of comedic roles, takes a large backseat to Ted, a visually stunning teddy bear lacking in character development.
Watching Ted struggle with the concept that he’s property not person feels like a chore because the arrogance of MacFarlane prevents viewers from actively engaging in the storyline.
It’s as if MacFarlane is telling audiences what is funny while sticking out the proverbial middle finger at the same moviegoers who made a “Ted” sequel possible.
Mila Kunis, the voice behind longtime “Family Guy” punching bag Meg, wisely opted to sit out the second installment of “Ted,” with “Les Miserables” actress Amanda Seyfried filling in as an out-of-her-league, pot-obsessed lawyer assigned to help Ted get his life back together.
The role is beneath Seyfried in every way, though the same could also be said for Wahlberg and certainly for Morgan Freeman, who phones in a lackluster performance as a big-shot civil rights lawyer.
Watching “Ted 2” gives audiences a similar queasy feeling to the one moviegoers left experiencing about Melissa McCarthy after suffering through the road-trip comedy “Tammy.”
Sequels like this don’t need to be made.
In fact, the poorest ones — this film included — actually lessen the original film.
There’s a reason it took 25 years and a lot of re-writes to finally come up with a “Jurassic Park” sequel that stands on its own two feet.
Instead of waiting for the right time and smashing a home run, movie studios seem all too content to lean into the first inside pitch they see and take their base, opting for quick cash over quality.
With the exception of a 30-second clip of Ted singing improvised lyrics to the “Law and Order” theme song, all the jokes are in the trailer.
Viewers know that everyone involved can do better, though no one seems willing to admit it.