Ted is a bear of very little brain. No wonder, given his liberal drug and alcohol abuse. And while he seemed to get a happily-ever-after ending in his first movie, Ted 2 shows us that life isn't all bongs and beer at Red Sox games for sentient playthings.
Ted and his wife, Tami-Lynn, are having relationship difficulties, and Ted believes that a child—their own child—might be just the salve for their matrimonial blisters. "If we got a kid to love," he says, "it'll teach us to love each other again."
Surely, if Christopher Robin were around to give Ted some of his sage advice, Ted might come to think otherwise. But no one would want to drag Robin into a rat's nest like this, now would they? So when Ted and Tami-Lynn begin the process of getting a kid via sperm donor, Ted's told he can't be a pappy because he's not technically a person.
With that one little rejection, the legal system at large takes new notice of Ted. Can toys manufactured by Hasbro get married? it asks. And, perhaps anticipating a rash of Transformers-related elopements and custody battles for My Little Pony dolls, said system declares Ted property and snatches away all the rights the bear had been taking for granted. He's fired from his grocery store gig. His marriage to Tami-Lynn is annulled. His rewards cards are all cancelled. It's not long before Ted's entire life has been taken away from him.
And he becomes a bear of very little hope.
But Ted and his best pal, John, are not ones to take this sort of cataclysm lying down. (Unless such a posture means smoking more weed, in which case they're absolutely ones to lie down during a cataclysm.) In this case, Ted's complete non-person status is enough for the two to set aside the bong long enough to visit a lawyer.
When that lawyer, Samantha L. Jackson, whips out a bong herself, well, they know they've found the woman best suited to handle their case.
Ted may not legally be a person, but that hasn't kept him from developing a strong, lifelong friendship with his owner, John. The two share a genuine affection, and John shows a willingness to risk his life for his stuffed compatriot.
Indeed, when John nearly dies saving Ted, the bear grieves deeply for his fallen friend. And that display of emotion—caught on camera and broadcast to the nation—becomes instrumental in them trying to show that Ted should meet the criteria of "personhood" (as it's defined in the movie): self-awareness, empathy and the ability to experience and process complex emotions.
When Ted, John and Samantha stumble upon a field of high-quality marijuana, John expresses his wonder and amazement in religious terms, offering a prayer to Jesus in thanksgiving. After John pretends to be dead, scaring Ted mightily, Ted angrily starts beating on him and saying, "I'll see you in heaven!" A lawyer says that humanity was a gift that God gave to us humans; he asks Ted whether he has a soul.
Ted (a stuffed animal) and Tami-Lynn (a grown woman) clearly cannot have children the traditional way. Thus, there's lots of talk and subsequent plot points that revolve around sperm donors. It goes so far as Ted and John planning to sexually assault football great Tom Brady (whose sexual anatomy they marvel at). We see John start to masturbate through his jeans, and there's talk of "Asian teen porn."
A racial gag gets bound up in a bunch of gross-out hijinks involving lots of sperm samples. And a variation of it involves the kinds of men pictured in porn. When Ted looks at John's laptop, he's appalled by the guy's meticulously organized porn collection (that spans all manner of sexual perversions).
Lewd comments are made by a slow-dancing homosexual couple about what they'll do afterwards. We hear frank references to male and female anatomy, oral sex, manual stimulation, gay bathroom sex, S&M and pedophilia. As a gag, Ted writes "penus" on Samantha's forehead. A Tick costume showcases a guy's crotch. We see bears mate on film during Ted's bachelor party. It's made known that Tami-Lynn smuggles a switchblade into a courtroom by inserting the weapon in her vagina. Samantha and Ted use a bong shaped like an erect penis.
Ted is sometimes beaten up or thrown—once by Tom Brady in what John describes as a "perfect spiral"—and is knocked unconscious once. There's a plot to kidnap the bear and cut him open. When Samantha lets Ted drive her car for 20 minutes, he scares the stuffing out of fellow travelers (knocking the side mirror off one car as he weaves down the road while smoking weed) and eventually crashes down a hillside and into the wall of a barn.
Several fights break out during New York's Comic-Con, where a gay couple bully the "geeks" attending, tripping them and knocking them down before they themselves are thrown into a glass display. Someone is nearly killed by a model of the Starship Enterprise. Ted, John and their lady friends pelt joggers with fruit. A guy gets hit with a bike. Ted shoots a rifle, and he goes shooting backwards himself from the recoil.
Crude or Profane Language
It'd be easier, in a way, to tell you here which bad words aren't uttered. Ted 2 contains a full 100 f-words, more than 50 s-words and almost every other profanity known to man, including "a--," "b--ch," "b--tard," "h---," "p---" and every conceivable obscene synonym for "penis." Also: the n-word and "f-g." God's name is misused about 25 times, more than half of the exclamations including "d--n." Jesus' name is abused around 20 times.
Drug and Alcohol Content
As mentioned, John and Ted are thrilled when they discover that their lawyer, Samantha, smokes just as much marijuana as they do. Together they use a variety of bongs, and Ted contemplates making his own. When John smokes Samantha's weed of choice, he has a bad trip: He refuses to step away from the wall—any wall—and begins to cry when he hears an unexpected noise nearby.
Ted and others drink a great deal of beer, in addition to whiskey, champagne and other alcoholic beverages.
Other Negative Elements
John divorced his previous wife, saying that they loved each other deeply but realized they weren't right for each other. Samantha thinks it's fortunate they got divorced early, saying that some people spend years "trying to make it work with the wrong person."
To celebrate a potential breakthrough in the case, Ted, John, Tami-Lynn and Samantha go to an improv comedy house and shout inappropriate suggestions at the comedians (like asking them to crack jokes about 9/11 or Robin Williams).
Ted and Tami-Lynn fight and insult each other. Urinal cakes are the subject of a running joke.
When Ted, John and Samantha approach Patrick Meighan, a big-shot civil rights lawyer, about taking Ted's case, Meighan initially turns them down. He argues that a good test of personhood is what sort of contribution that "person" makes to society. As far as he can see, the only thing Ted has given society is a long history of misdemeanors, drug use and blue language.
"You could've been a leader," he tells Ted, "a role model. Instead, you're Justin Bieber."
'Course Bieber, whatever his faults may be, is trying to become a better person—to grow from his mistakes. Ted, in the juvenile-minded, misanthropic hands of his creator and voice, Seth MacFarlane, cannot and will not grow. A more mature sentient teddy bear? That runs counter to Ted's one-joke, two-movie career.
Ted 2 is a two-hour exercise in frustration, because you can see that behind all the foulness, MacFarlane can actually be disarmingly funny. (A cameo by Liam Neeson, wherein he asks Ted whether he's allowed to buy a box of Trix cereal, given that it's for kids and all, is a hoot.) Suffice it to say that unlike a Damon Wayans Haunted House movie, there's more to MacFarlane's shtick than just schlock.
But I'm not sure even he believes that.
I don't know whether it's a product of storytelling insecurity or whether he truly thinks shock is the best funny there is. Either way, the result is the same. Whatever heart beats under Ted 2's furry chest, it's completely engulfed in MacFarlane's poly-blend stuffing of filth.
A postscript: Some may read Ted's search for equality as a pro-gay parable. That might be stretching it. Sure, the story deals with a civil rights issue—but one that has far more similarities to Dred Scott than our current debate over gay marriage. Truthfully, if you're looking for any sort of meaningful political commentary, a Seth MacFarlane film is one of the last places you should look. Meighan's right: Ted might've been a role model, but it's hard to take the bear seriously when he's the "living" embodiment of a dirty joke.
Other Belief Systems
Readability Age Range
Mark Wahlberg as John; Voice of Seth MacFarlane as Ted; Amanda Seyfried as Samantha; Jessica Barth as Tami-Lynn; Giovanni Ribisi as Donny; Morgan Freeman as Patrick Meighan
June 26, 2015
December 15, 2015