TED 2 REVIEW

I wasn’t quite picking up on those good vibrations with these funky bunch of gags, Marky Mark.

The filthy mouthed fluffster is back. BUT better?

“OH MY GOD, DÉJÀ VU!” You got that right. Too much of the same isn’t always a good thing.

I loved Ted. I thought it was a return to form from MacFarlane. Family Guy has been spluttering along for some time. The better days long behind it. A bit like The Simpsons, really. Then there was the misfire that was A Million Ways to Die in The West. Watchable at best.

Ted was crude, OTT but funny. I hadn’t laughed so much in quite some time. Wahlberg and MacFarlane made a great pairing. Inevitably, it fared well and a sequel was soon green-lit.

So here we are. It’s not all bad. When it’s funny, it’s good. BUT that’s the problem, when it’s not; it’s drawn out, repetitive and boring.

MacFarlane did exactly what he’s done for the last few seasons of Family Guy. If the jokes are running low, go for flat out disgusting or just something random and weird.

So what happens this time? Newlywed couple Ted (MacFarlane) and Tami-Lynn (Jessica Barth) want to have a baby, but in order to qualify to be a parent, Ted will have to prove he’s a person in a court of law.

Ridiculous. I heard some people say. BUT a talking bear smoking a bong and fornicating isn’t?

I found Barth a lot more likeable this time round. I couldn’t stand her in Ted. She was irritating and her voice was nauseating.

Her shouting match with Ted (That went on far too long) didn’t set up high hopes BUT she had (I can’t believe I’m writing this) good chemistry with the bear. It may have been schmaltzy but it added an layer to her Boston skank.

I mean the story line was never going to be the focal point of this film. Although MacFarlane did give a reasonably nice explanation for Mila Kunis’ absence (I know. I was gutted too).

Instead, we had Amanda Seyfried (who more than held her own). She clicked with Wahlberg for their inevitable coupling and certainly wasn’t afraid to take some jibes from the fluffy fiend. Seriously, the Gollum jokes. I was in stitches.

There were a number of old and new faces BUT surprisingly they were all a little dull. Sam J. “Flash Gordon” Jones was completely unnecessary and just did the same old thing to much more disappointing results.

Regular MacFarlane stalwart Patrick Warburton’s repressed gay man was a good recurring joke in the first one. Now he’s “out” with his demented partner in tow. It just wasn’t funny. Beating up nerds in a Comic Con event? Is that the best he could do? The only titter I got was Warburton’s costume choice.

And Giovanni Ribisi’s Donny made another return. A desperate move? There was only a couple of titbits that got a little laugh. His appearance did get a little more relevant as the film carried on BUT it was the same old guff just in a different setting. Sigh.

I really hoped the new faces would provide a little more. They played it much too seriously and didn’t bring anything to the mix. John “Mad Men” Slattery, the slick silver haired Sterling was surprisingly unmemorable. Anyone could have played him. And Morgan Freeman. It was just a lazy excuse to hear his beautiful dulcet tones waffle through some mindless exposition.

The court scenes went on far too long. If it wasn’t for Ted’s one liners, I would have been in a mini coma. Ted and John (Wahlberg) were still very much on form (Thankfully). Their stupid banter, drug induced theorizing and stupid escapades delivered yet again. From Ted’s TV theme song improvisation to John’s sperm lab incident.

Disgusting, cringeworthy but oh so funny! Where was this throughout the rest of the film? I thought this was supposed to be a comedy?!

Okay, the Google theory about how everything is two clicks away from taking you to a web page of a man’s appendage was typical MacFarlane but it got me!

However, the sequences in which Ted was looking for a sperm donor were very hit and miss. Despite John’s lab incident delivering a cracking Facebook slogan gag; MacFarlane and co. soon tooks things too far with the dimwitted duo seeking “super semen” from a renowned American sports celebrity. It was just weird. Talk about overkill.

A Liam Neeson cameo involving a simple purchase of kids cereal was unexpected but brilliantly done! BUT then we had the running length filled with endless bong and smoking weed gags. They got old really quick. Come on, even Seth Rogen is trying to break away from that old spiel. Trying.

Wahlberg tripping out once. Hilarious. Two or three times after? Meh. There was one scene that got me and all it needed was the iconic score of a prehistoric masterpiece. “Breakfast Clubbing” in the lawyer library however? Not so much.

It’s certainly watchable but just wasn’t even on the same level as the first one. I wasn’t even trying to make comparisons but when the gags were sparse, I found time to. MacFarlane chucked in his relentless musical song and dance numbers yet again and if anything they hampered the film. Seyfried has a lovely voice but I came for Ted not Les Mis.

It relied heavily on retreading old story lines and gags to pick up where the film couldn’t. Shame. Plus there were several clips I saw in the trailers that got my interest and didn’t even feature in the film.

The fiery fluffbag has enough in his stuffing to kill the time BUT you may be left wanting.

2.5/5

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SELMA REVIEW

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David Oyelowo delivers an outstanding performance in this highly watchable biopic.

So what is it about? Selma is a chronicle of Martin Luther King’s campaign to secure equal voting rights via an epic march from Selma to Montgomery, Alabama in 1965.

I am a little ashamed to say that I knew nothing of the Selma March. I know who Martin Luther King is and what he stood for. BUT I didn’t really know the full extent of what the man accomplished. Other than deliver the “I Have a Dream” speech.

Farewell, Danny from Spooks. I was afraid that David Oyelowo would never be able to shake off that iconic TV role for me. BUT in the last two years, I have seen him popping up in films more and more with his performances getting better and better; Jack Reacher, Interstellar, The Butler.

I was waiting for him to get a meatier role to sink his teeth into and nothing could be bigger than the role of Dr King.

He was fantastic. I went back to watch the infamous speeches of Dr King and Oyelowo captures his posture, his voice, the little pauses and tone perfectly.

I am surprised that he didn’t at least receive a BAFTA nod for his performance.

I mean if Laura Dern could get a Best Supporting Actress nod for Wild, then the man definitely deserved one. No disrespect, Miss Dern.

The opening sequence surprised me in which we see Dr King receiving the Nobel Peace Prize in 1964. Another fact I did not know. This is soon followed by the unexpected (No, seriously. I jumped out of my seat) and harrowing 16th Street Baptist Church bombing.

Director Ava DuVernay handled the material delicately. Four little girls killed through brutal ignorance. Subtle but tough viewing.

To be honest, Selma was a little slow to get going. Considering the powerful opening, the drama seemed to be put on the back burner. The back room politics was interesting enough with King attempting to peacefully negotiate the black vote.

BUT the constant flicking back and forth soon put me into a lull.

Tom Wilkinson played LDJ brilliantly. The very definition of a politican. Promising to do his utmost but afraid to make any drastic changes as *cough* another election *cough* is on the cards.

Giovanni Ribisi wasn’t bad. The only thing that was bad was his combover.

The conspiring between LDJ and Edgar Hoover was unsettling. It will always remain suspect what happened to Malcolm X and Dr King. Allowing Dr King to continue to be the face of black rights until he began to challenge everything.

While this is happening, we see the treatment of black voters in the southern states as they try and register.

Oprah Winfrey was very good as Annie Lee Cooper. She wasn’t in it enough to be frank. Her treatment was unnecessary. Having to learn and recite the constitution. Fill in every detail of her form. Quizzed on how many members in a particular state and their names. Doing everything within their power to stop her getting the register to vote.

King soon focuses his attention on Selma. A hot spot brewing with racial tension. The place where he will hold a peaceful march.

The fact he was put under heavy surveillance by the government was shocking stuff. Branded as an agitator for failing to listen to reason and disrupting the peace. A joke.

I thought King’s phone call with singer Mahalia Jackson was a little strange. Calling her in the middle of the night to hear a little gospel? BUT the stranger revelation out of the scene that it was logged in a surveillance report!

I always thought Malcolm X and Dr King were not just fighting for the same thing BUT fighting the same way.

I didn’t realise that King detested X’s violent methods and refused his help during the “peace” protests.

Mr X even tried to rationalize with King. Trying to offer his militant ways as a distraction. To stop the wrong attention being focused on King’s cause.

Tim Roth was very good as Governor George Wallace. He carried the accent well and brought a subtle menace to the role. Not enough of him to be honest.

BUT of course the real battlefield was on the Edmund Pettus Bridge.

Truly horrific stuff. The riots that ensued before and after the incident were bad enough but the attack on the Bridge was tough viewing. The sequence meshed in actual footage which really brought it home. Knowing that this actually happened. Shot for shot.

However, in between these horrific moments, there wasn’t much else.

It felt like they tried to piece more around the events of Selma.

The dynamic with King and his wife wasn’t explored enough for me. The threatening phone calls and the constant fear of what would happen was certainly a catalyst.

BUT there was a scene in which the government are desperate to destabilise his marriage by sending a recording of King with another woman. He doesn’t deny it very well. A mild insinuation that I wanted explaining.

No one is perfect BUT was it mind games? Or did the government find something on the pastor?

It was great to see Cuba Gooding Jr. and Martin Sheen in this BUT the roles they took on were so unmemorable and small that anyone could have played them.

The sermons, although brilliantly executed by Oyelowo, were a little long at the tooth for me and didn’t hit home as much as I had wanted.

Don’t get me wrong. Selma is still worth investing.

There were some interesting developments that I didn’t know about. The constant mind changing of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC) who supported the cause when the odds looked good. Only to pull out when King and the protestors decided to take on the Bridge a second time.

The closing credits around particular protestors had some shocking revelations that I did not anticipate.

The march itself was tense to watch. BUT it just wasn’t quite as hard-hitting as it could have been. I understand that it is based on true events.

BUT it felt like something was missing. The length was a little long for my liking. The politics and sermons seem to kill the tension and pace that was spurning Selma on for me.

However, that doesn’t stop a sterling performance and interesting if (in parts) brutal re-telling of a crucial moment in history.

3/5

A MILLION WAYS TO DIE IN THE WEST REVIEW

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A Million Ways to Die Laughing! Unfortunately not. MacFarlane takes on the Wild West and comes out more battered and bruised than his heroic counterpart. Applying his Family Guy spiel, this cowboy comedy yields mixed results this time round.

Now for the record I am a big Family Guy fan and thought Ted was a return to form from MacFarlane as Family Guy teetered on lacklustre but watchable.

His second feature to hit the big screen and a western. My hopes were high. The trailers signed me up from the get go. Job done as always. However, it seems a case of ‘best bits in the trailers’ syndrome. Now don’t get me wrong, it’s not all bad but it’s not all great either.

The main issue, two hours? Too long. It was only after the first 30-45 minutes that the film got into its stride. The story line is hardly original, merely a rehash of a classical western storyline. Probably one of the reasons why westerns are no longer plaguing our screens.

Local coward finds bravery and confronts nastiest gunslinger to win the town and the girl. Yadda, yadda. I really hoped for a demented Blazing Saddles but only got mildly hot flip flops. The lovely Charlize Theron and McFarlane were fantastic together. Good chemistry. You could see where they were improvising which made the banter all the more entertaining.

However, the main jokes and punch lines are few and far between. The bigger, better gags have been heavily advertised to get you to watch this mildly entertaining affair.

Seth MacFarlane’s rants felt, at times, like nothing more than him trying to do improvised stand up. Some parts fall flat on its backside, other bits bring the odd laugh. His speech on the law and order of the town was very good; “There is the mayor. He is dead”.

MacFarlane manages to carry enough charisma to keep his stocky character going. The funniest moments in the film for me were the unexpected blink and you’ll miss it cameos, containing the likes of Ewan McGregor, Ryan Reynolds and . . . my God, two brilliant cameos that were nearly worth the ticket. I won’t say for once.

Cameos you would have expected from MacFarlane but still manage to surprise and get a laugh.

Considering the number of musical montages in Family Guy, there is only one song and dance number. An irritatingly catchy one, at that. A missed opportunity in my opinion. I kept expecting Mr Conway Twitty to appear. Alas to no avail. Of course not literally as the poor man passed away some time ago.

I admit I did have to check Google on that. My bad.

In all fairness, the supporting characters bring the better jokes but they are barely in it. You feel that they are brought in to help the slackening pace or when MacFarlane and Theron have stopped messing around.

Neil Patrick Harris (How I Met Your Mother) was very funny as the mustached lothario Foy with his ridiculously cringeworthy but hilarious pun based insults.

It was great to see Liam Neeson as the villain. Unfortunately he plays it very dead pan. So serious, in fact that his character is just a stocky and highly unmemorable clichéd cowboy killer. I expected at least a Taken parody or something. Nope. At least he didn’t try and do an American drawl again after Seraphim Falls.

The same could be said for Amanda Seyfried who was nothing more than a bland caricature used as a plot device to spur our protagonist. Shame. A joke about her eyes brought an unexpected titter.

Sarah Silverman and Giovani Ribisi were hilarious together. However, they are only resorted to a drawn out gag about having a prostitute as a girlfriend and not sleeping together before marriage as it is not very Christian. The gag gets a little stale but the characters were funny enough to warrant more screen time than they got.  Inevitably, there would be a meeting with the Indians, I mean, Native Americans and a certain taking of various substances, leading to a trippy and surreal sequence that reeked of desperation, more than creativity.

Inevitably it all ends very . . . predictably which leaves you somewhat disappointed (if it hadn’t already).

It’s watchable at best. But I have later series of Family Guy for that. It kills the time, brings the odd laugh but hardly must see viewing. If you are looking for a laugh out loud rowdy riot of a western in the style of Mel Brooks’ Blazing Saddles, then I recommend . . . Blazing Saddles 2.5/5 for me.

Currently ranks #130 out of 179!