This month unofficially marks my ninth year of reviewing movies. I’ve seen more terrible movies than I like to think about, and among those hundreds of terrible films, Seth MacFarlane’s Ted sits in my mind as possibly — probably the worst of them all. That, when you think about it, is quite an achievement. Even if it’s not the worst movie I’ve seen in the last nine years, it still sticks out in my mind as the worst. It’s memorably bad.
And now, a new nominee has entered — perhaps just by default— in the form of MacFarlane’s Ted 2, a movie I approached more as a challenge of wills than a moviegoing outing. In the end, I’m not sure who won, but I’m positive it wasn’t me. Ted 2 is — to no one’s surprise — worse than the original. The law of diminishing returns and Seth MacFarlane’s hacky one-note humor obviously guarantees this. The over-reliance on pop-culture references, the casual racism, homophobia and misogyny, the pointless nonsequiturs — it’s all here, again. MacFarlane–who’s best known for his animated shows Family Guy and American Dad — has built a healthy career on finding the lowest common denominator and aiming even lower than that. Ted and Ted 2 are perfect examples of this, relying heavily on Star Wars and weed jokes, while being little more than an extended Family Guy episode (complete with a bigger version the same damn opening credits) and one joke — there’s an anthropomorphic teddy bear and he likes to get high.
There’s a little more to the plot, with the return of titular CGI stuffed animal Ted (voiced by MacFarlane) and his best bud John (Mark Wahlberg), but with John’s love interest from the first film (Mila Kunis) conveniently and quickly written out of this one. Ted, after getting married and trying to save his broken marriage with a kid, finds out via the adoption process that he’s not legally recognized as a human being. This just serves to push the meandering plot forward in some direction before running Ted into his nemesis, Donny (Giovanni Ribisi), a janitor with a creepy fixation on the ambulatory stuffed animal.
In the meantime, the movie spends a ton of time exploring Ted’s search for his own civil rights, which — in MacFarlane’s hands — is exactly as tone deaf as you might expect. Despite one brief moment of self-awareness in this realm, Ted 2 is still a piece of filmmaking by a waxen white guy who thinks Kim Kardashian having sex with a black man is the height of hilarity. Add in the constant stream of gay panic, as well as the context of everything that’s happened in this country over the past few weeks and you’ve got a film that manages not to be simply, rudimentarily bad, but backwards as well. Rated R for crude and sexual content, pervasive language, and some drug use.