The first five minutes of “Ted 2” include narration from the instantly recognizable voice of Patrick Stewart; enough profanity to make Joe Pesci blush; a wedding between a stuffed toy and his longtime, Boston-area girlfriend; a Busby Berkeley-esque musical number; a guy high on cocaine who maniacally jumps rope, punches a wedding guest in the face and hurls himself through a glass window; and grizzly bear pornography.
So yeah, it’s a Seth MacFarlane production: all the “Family Guy” humor, without all the animation.
The sequel to the 2012 comedy “Ted” about a man and his magical Teddy Bear/best friend/enabler come to life will have you reaching for your thesaurus to come up with other words for sophomoric. Asinine is a good one. So are moronic, stupid and absurd.
But it’s also something else: a laugh riot.
Where to begin? How about the scene in which Ted (voiced by MacFarlane) and his “Thunder Buddy” John Bennett (Mark Wahlberg) sing the words to the “Law & Order” theme. (Who knew?) What about the hilarious cameos, including a memorable one from Liam Neeson. How about when Ted, upon first hearing civil rights lawyer Patrick Meighan (Morgan Freeman), responds: “I think I want to sleep on a bed made of your voice.”
The premise of the film – like it matters – is that when Ted and his wife Tami-Lynn (Jessica Barth) try to adopt a baby, they learn that Ted is not technically a person, but is more accurately property, thus annulling their marriage, voiding his Discover card and ending his membership in a pizza discount club.
With the help of the recently divorced John and freshly minted lawyer Samantha L. Jackson (Amanda Seyfried), they attempt to prove that he is human, all while not allowing Ted to fall into the hands of the villainous Donny (Giovanni Ribisi, reprising his role from the first film).
The film never veers into self-importance, despite references to landmark civil rights cases and some courtroom speechifying. But don’t worry. Any time it starts to feel the least bit serious, someone pulls out a bong.
The laughs are plentiful, and so are the cringes. There is a gag at a fertility clinic that makes the famous hair gel scene from “Something About Mary” look like an outtake from “The Brady Bunch.” (If your audience is anything like mine, half will be screaming with laughter, half will be screaming with horror.)
It’s the kind of moment that most filmmakers would hate to admit they even ponder, but that MacFarlane can’t help but include. As usual, nothing is off-limits. There are laughs around 9/11, Robin Williams and plane crashes. A particularly potent strain of marijuana is called “Here Comes Autism.”
And as with any MacFarlane production, the in-jokes are plentiful. If you know why the Comic-Con scene involving the characters portrayed by Patrick Warburton and Michael Dorn is especially funny, you might want to raise your hand the next time a “biggest nerd in the room” debate gets going.
He also dips into his affection for all things ’80s. I counted references to three movies and one song.
There is no question that MacFarlane – who wrote, produced, directed and starred in this film – is an acquired taste.
It’s a taste many have acquired, through his ground-breaking television show “Family Guy” and other forays into subversive animation, his turn as host of the Academy Awards two years ago, and the first “Ted.” But he is more than an adult whose sense of humor ground to a halt the first time he heard a bathroom joke. Watch him on talk shows or listen to him sing a song and you realize he is a smart and talented man who happens to find humor in places most would fear to tread.
I would argue that he should be favorably compared to Mel Brooks, who is regarded today as a comic genius but who also has been accused of getting laughs with material that could be deemed offensive (see “The Producers”), racist (see “Blazing Saddles”) and flatulent (see “Blazing Saddles” again).
MacFarlane is a little Brooks, a little MAD Magazine and a little Howard Stern and all of his work draws from that lineage, including his new film.
Like the best of all of those and more, “Ted 2” will make you laugh out loud and hate yourself a little for doing so. But the next time you’re singing along to “Law & Order,” at least you’ll know who to thank.
Starring: Seth MacFarlane, Mark Wahlberg, Amanda Seyfried, Giovanni Ribisi
Director: Seth MacFarlane
Running time: 108 minutes
Rating: R for crude and sexual content, pervasive language and some drug use
The Lowdown: The magical and inappropriate Teddy Bear must prove that he is a human and not just property.