When it comes to writing reviews, movies about dying are easy, and comedies are hard. Because one man’s mirth is another man’s poison, this critic can only consult his belly as the barometer. On a gut level, “Ted 2” is a funny film.
As in the previous installment, writer and director Seth MacFarlane voices the title character, a 2-foot-tall teddy bear who came alive after a young Bostonian named John Bennett made a wish. Three decades later, John (Mark Wahlberg, lovably dumb) is a divorced grown-up, and Ted is his ageless alter-ego, a foul-mouthed, intoxicated tour guide through Neverland.
Soon after Ted weds brassy bimbo Tami-Lynn (Jessica Barth), their interspecies marriage is in the doldrums. Ted suggests that they try to have a child together, which would be difficult because he has no reproductive organs. When they attempt to adopt a baby, the state of Massachusetts decrees that Ted is not a person and the marriage is annulled.
To plead his case, the only lawyer that Ted can afford is Samantha, aka Sam L. Jackson (Amanda Seyfried), a recent graduate of Arizona State University. (One suspects that the many jabs against ASU are private jokes. This is a movie that will reward those with enhanced senses or freeze-fame capabilities, as when the fine print in a newspaper article about the court case says supporters around the world are declaring “Je suis Ted!”)
Like Ted and John, Sam is an unrepentant pot smoker, and a montage where they blaze a trail through a law library is a stoner spoof of “Footloose.”
Other funny scenes include a disruptive visit to an improv club, a slapstick chase through a comic-book convention and a cameo by a particularly paranoid Liam Neeson.
There’s even room for some sweetness here. A moonlight serenade for an audience of woodland creatures is reminiscent of a scene from “Joe vs. the Volcano,” and thankfully it’s not punctuated with a fart joke. After a small handful of films, MacFarlane still isn’t much of a director, but he is clearly fond of old-school musical interludes.
Yet he also has a weakness for bodily-fluid gags and last-resort obscenity. For some audiences, low-brow humor is the whole point of the “Ted” movies. And if a critic tries to make a big stink about it, that objection is hereby overruled.
What “Ted 2” • Three stars out of four • Run time 1:51 • Rating R • Content Crude and sexual content, pervasive language and some drug use