The summer movie season began amid doom and gloom. I don’t mean George Miller’s filling screens with his dystopian vision of the future in Mad Max: Fury Road or the career ending fallout from the Sony hack. No, I mean the sky-is-falling predictions that circulated about the movie business.
Box office is down! No one goes to the movies anymore! And best of all: Movies are dead!
To paraphrase Mark Twain, I’m happy to say the reports of the death of cinema have been greatly exaggerated. The summer box office of 2015 will go down in the record books as the second-biggest in history with almost seven billion dollars generated by Minions, Ant-Man, Mad Max, dinosaurs and a sad little girl named Riley.
Superheroes helped put bums in seats, but 2015 won’t be remembered as the Year of Ultron. Now that the summer silly season is over, a definite trend toward female-driven movies like Trainwreck, Pitch Perfect 2 and Spy showed that, as Amy Schumer told me, Hollywood has finally realized “our money works, too. Our banks also accept the female dollar.”
But it wasn’t just women going to the movies. With Jurassic World pulling in 1.6 billion samolians worldwide, it seems everyone put down the remote and went to the cinema.
We didn’t rush out to everything — cash grabs like Ted 2 and Terminator: Genisys flopped — but the naysayers, the folks who, in January, were declaring movies to be a thing of the past, an old outmoded form of entertainment in the digital age, missed the point.
People flocked to the movies in huge numbers this summer, filling seats and studio bank accounts, not simply to sit in air conditioning for a few hours as relief from the summer heat or to dine out on popcorn and Twizzlers, but to engage in an age-old ritual.
Of course, you can watch movies at home or on your phone. New technology has made it easier than ever to enjoy a film from the comfort of your coach on a 60-inch screen with surround sound and healthy, homemade snacks, but no matter what set-up you may have in your living room, the thing missing is the ancient practice of sharing entertainment with a large group of strangers. It’s a primal thing, hard-wired into our DNA, that dates back to when tribes of cave dwellers would sit around fires and tell stories through to the Globe Theatre, vaudeville, the talkies and right up to today’s IMAX and AUX screenings.
People have gathered to be entertained since there were tales to be told because there is no better way to enjoy the storytelling experience than surrounded by strangers who are laughing, crying, gasping— whatever — in response to a shared event.
No matter how large your TV or comfortable your sofa, home viewing misses the magical element of community. In the theatre you’re getting the sound and the picture the director intended, but more than that the experience brings people together, inspires conversation, respect and triggers actual physical interaction with others. Try that as you stream a movie on your iPhone.
Of course, as in any other community there are a few troublemakers — texters, seat kickers — but I spend more time in theatres than most and find the pros far outweigh any negatives.
In the era of home entertainment the idea of going to the movies may sound old fashioned or quaint but I like the way English novelist Angela Carter described watching a film in a theatre. She called it “dreaming the same dream in unison” and that, for me will never go out of style.
When John Bennett (Mark Walhberg) was a small, lonely child he wished for just one thing—a best friend. His wish came true and Ted (voice of Seth MacFarlane), his trusty teddy bear, came to life. The pair became “Thunder Buddies” for life and the subject of two movies, Ted and this weekend’s Ted 2.
Ted isn’t your usual teddy bear. He smokes pot, swears—imagine rooming with Tommy Chong and Charles Bukowski—and has trouble holding down a job.
In the new film Ted is married to a human woman but under the eyes of the law he is seen as property and not a person. When the couple decide to adopt a child he faces a court battle helmed by a young lawyer (Amanda Seyfried) and a renowned, civil-rights attorney (Morgan Freeman).
Ted may be the rudest and crudest teddy bear to ever star in a movie, but there are loads of other talking teddies that are cool bears and not Teddy Bores. Remember Lancelot from Labyrinth, or the bear in AI: Artificial Intelligence who tells the young robot that 50 years is not such a long time and Winnie the Pooh? Here are three more cinematic bear necessities:
“I’ll never be like other people, but that’s alright,” says the star of the delightful Paddington, based on the much-loved children’s books by Michael Bond, “because I’m a bear. A bear called Paddington.”
The story of Paddington (voiced by Ben Whishaw) the cuddly, orphaned Peruvian bear picks up when he, armed only with a “worrying marmalade problem” and his distinctive red hat, lands at Paddington Station in London. There, a family adopts him and learns to love the little bear, even though chaos follows his every step. The film’s co-star Hugh Bonneville says the Paddington character is so popular he is, “part of the DNA of the UK.”
The movie presents Paddington in his iconic blue duffel coat and red hat but not the usual Wellington Boots because they were not part of the bear’s original design. Manufacturers added his red Welly’s so the toy teddies were able to stand upright.
As voiced by Ned Beatty, Lots-o’-Huggin’ Bear is a Southern accented, strawberry scented teddy who looks cuddly, but is anything but. When a misunderstanding threatens to separate the toys, Woody (Tom Hanks), Buzz (Tim Allen), Jesse (Joan Cusack) and the gang take matters into their own tiny hands but when they meet the huggable but evil Lotso the garbage dump or the attic begin to look good.
“The guy may seem plush and huggable on the outside,” says Buttercup the Unicorn, “but inside he’s a monster.” His habit of throwing toys that don’t please him into “the box” is so evil he’s even been compared to the wicked Governor on The Walking Dead.
Unlike Ted Fozzie the Bear doesn’t work blue. The fuzzy brown jokester has been a big screen star since 1979’s The Muppet Movie where he was discovered by Kermit the Frog doing stand-up comedy in a dive bar. In the film Fozzie drives a Studebaker, but how, exactly, does a puppet manoeuvre a car? The film answers the question—“Where did you learn to drive?” Kermit asks. “I took a correspondence course!”—but the real answer is that the real driver hid in the trunk and drove the car by remote control, using a television monitor to guide his steering.
In the first five minutes of “Ted 2,” Seth Macfarlane’s sequel to the 2012 stoner-potty-mouth-teddy-bear movie starring Mark Wahlberg, there’s a wedding between a stuffed bear and a human, drug use, Flash Gordon, bear porn and a dance number.
Then it gets weird.
To understand how weird it gets, you have to know the history. When John Bennett (Wahlberg) was a small, lonely child he wished for just one thing—a best friend. His wish came true and Ted (voice of MacFarlane), his trusty teddy bear, came to life. The pair became “Thunder Buddies” for life and room and soul mates. Ted isn’t your usual teddy bear. He smokes pot, swears—imagine bunking with Tommy Chong and Charles Bukowski and you get the idea.—and likes to drive and text at the same time.
In the new film Ted is married to Tami-Lynn (Jessica Barth) but when the couple decide to adopt a child it’s discovered that in the eyes of the law Ted is considered property and not a person. John and Ted hatch a plan to fight for the bear’s civil rights in court. “We’ll take it all the way to Judge Judy if we have to,” says John. The only lawyer they can afford is a young attorney on her first case, Samantha L. Jackson (Amanda Seyfried) who shares the guy’s affection for pot (she smokes a strain called Help Me Get Home) and agrees to work pro bono.
Add to that court cases, a wild kidnapping plot, a renowned, civil-rights attorney (Morgan Freeman) and a nutty battle at Comic Con.
Ted journey to personhood begins with as laugh a minute. Maybe even every thirty seconds. Full belly laughs, that go well beyond politically correct to a land where very few comedians fear to tread. There are jokes about race, sexuality, the Kardashians, mental illness and a whole host of “That’s too soon” gags. You will laugh even though you’ll feel bad about some of the things you are laughing at. MacFarlane and his “Family Guy” co-writers (Alec Sulkin and Wellesley Wild) have hit a sweet spot whereby they can use animation and cute teddy bears to push the envelope in very extreme ways. This is not a movie for the easily offended.
Then comes the court case and the movie shifts. The jokes thin out and the subtext about the civil rights of any oppressed people comes front and center. Or at least threatens to for a moment. There are definitely some serious matters afloat here and MacFarlane allows the absurdity of the situation to take a backseat to the issue of basic rights for all people—even if they are bears.
The jokes still come hard and fast, but fewer of them land in the second hour. Perhaps two hours is too long for dirty-mouth stoner bear jokes, or maybe it’s that Wahlberg has less to do here than he did in number one, or that Mila Kunis, so charming in “Ted” is gone, replaced by Seyfried. Seyfried is fine, BTW, and can deliver a joke but Kunis’s relationship with John in the first film provided much of that film’s heart, something part two could use a bit more of.
“Ted 2” has more very funny, very off colour jokes than most movies. Too bad they’re concentrated in the first hour and not spread throughout.
“There is much to smile about in June. If you happen to live in the Northern Hemisphere it’s the month with the longest daylight hours of the year. If you’re a Gemini or Cancer, Happy Birthday! If you’re a dad, Happy Father’s Day! If you’re a movie fan, the month promises laughs-a-plenty.
“Fans of Family Guy know what to expect from Ted 2, Seth MacFarlane’s sequel to the raunchiest teddy bear movie ever made. As the writer and voice behind Peter Griffin, MacFarlane pushes the limits of what’s acceptable on TV. Now imagine that without a network censor looking over his shoulder. Ladies and gentlemen, I give you Ted 2. Mark Wahlberg returns—it’s the first time ever he’s appeared in a movie original and sequel—as John Bennett, Ted’s best friend and enabler.
“After 96 episodes on television Entourage is making the leap from small screen to big. Vincent Chase and his posse, Eric, Turtle, and Johnny Drama promise the same laughs the TV show delivered but not everyone was excited about the movie. Grant Elliot says he was a fan of the series “when it was good” and started a Kickstarter campaign to make enough money to bribe the show’s creator Doug Ellin to NOT make the movie…” TO READ THE WHOLE THING CHECK OUT THE MAGAZINE ON STANDS NOW!