REVIEW | ‘Ted 2’ overdone, too long to keep interest

Seth MacFarlane’s “Ted 2” is overwritten, which is peculiar considering MacFarlane’s work is usually underwritten. The MacFarlane-style joke structure consists of random, isolated gags. Some of those isolated gags may be funny, but they could be watched on YouTube — out of the context of the show — and still be just as funny. The humor, though, doesn’t usually service the overall narrative or develop characters.

In “Ted 2,” the joke structure is still present, but there’s just a lot more story to get through. The sad thing is that it needn’t have been so complex: The central dilemma and central buddy relationship is compelling enough to fuel the movie. However, MacFarlane simply mixes in too many ingredients and doesn’t want to edit, making the movie an overlong slog to get through.

“Ted 2” continues the saga of Bostonian John (Mark Wahlberg) and his animatronic, trash-talking, weed-smoking teddy bear, Ted (voiced by MacFarlane). Ted marries his girlfriend Tami-Lynn (Jessica Barth) and decides to have kids. The first 20 minutes are strong. Per usual, the gags are uneven, but the action moves along quickly and MacFarlane and co writers Alec Sulkin and Wellesley Wild try to develop the titular bear.

In the first movie, Ted was the obnoxious, slacker best friend, keeping John from growing up and being in a mature relationship with Lori (Mila Kunis, absent from the sequel). This time around, Ted has slightly matured and moved to center stage: He’s still obnoxious and he still smokes weed, but he’s grown as a character.

The main thrust of the movie comes when Ted finds out he’s not a person but property. With the help of young, hot lawyer Samantha (Amanda Seyfried), the three fight for Ted’s civil rights. As ridiculous as this conflict may be, it’s far more compelling than simply having Ted be the slacker best friend. And it seems like a logical next step in his development that Ted’s true identity would come into question.

However, around the halfway point, “Ted 2” plummets with the reintroduction of Donny (Giovanni Ribisi), the creeper villain from the first movie who’s trying to steal Ted yet again. This storyline is completely unfunny and superfluous. The civil rights case provides sufficient conflict and opportunities for humor, so why does MacFarlane feel it was necessary to include this additional, forced tension? Even worse, it’s rehashed from the first film.

This recycling of the villain and added tension speaks to the main problem with the movie: It’s tediously plotted. There’s way too much going on, and it’s frustrating to watch. At 115, minutes “Ted 2” is too long, overstuffed and moves at a snail’s pace — the worst problems that can plague a comedy.

Sporting a Bostonian accent as thick as molasses, Wahlberg is funny and endearing, even though he’s not given much to do. He was the star of the first one, but since the sequel is Ted-centric, he’s crammed into the dopey, supportive sidekick role, whose sole conflict is trying to meet a new girl.

Meanwhile, Seyfried essentially plays the dream girl: attractive, intelligent, has her life together and cool with getting high and chucking apples at random strangers at night. Seyfried demonstrates that she has good comedic timing and charm, but ultimately she’s beholden to the plot, serving as the love interest for John.

I did laugh during “Ted 2” but not nearly enough. The inconsistency of the jokes is made worse by the over-plotting. The picture can’t sustain comedic momentum and eventually runs out of gas, crawling along to its inevitable conclusion.

(Rated R for crude and sexual content, pervasive language and some drug use)