Ted 2: Grin and bear it

As Seth McFarlane’s Ted (2012) became the highestgrossing R-rated comedy in Hollywood history, a sequel was inevitable. After all, in Hollywood nothing exceeds like success.

But, as is common with many sequels, Ted 2 demonstrates that the novelty has worn off. Producer/director/screenwriter McFarlane again does the honors as the voice of the randy but cuddly teddy bear, still partying in Boston with best bud John (Mark Wahlberg) and adored by stripper wife Tami-Lynn (Jessica Barth).

But when Ted and Tami-Lynn decide they want a baby, Ted must prove – in court – that he be accepted as a member of the human race. The film’s plea for acceptance and tolerance is nothing if not timely, and McFarlane has some fun sending up courtroom-drama cliches (… And Justice for All, anyone?).

McFarlane, who gets all the good lines as Ted, throws in a lot of stuff, but there isn’t much of a story, nor much for anyone to do. Wahlberg, whose humorous turn was one of the pleasant surprises of the first film, essentially stands around waiting to respond to Ted’s shtick. Barth and Amanda Seyfried (as a crusading young attorney) are fetching and game, although there’s little room for them to maneuver. Giovanni Ribisi (sporting a funny wig) is back as psycho stalker Donny, but he’s merely a plot device to push the story to its climax. Morgan Freeman rolls through a few scenes and picks up an easy check as a wise attorney. (What other kind would he play?) There’s also a spate of familiar walk-ons and celebrity cameos, including Liam Neeson, John Carroll Lynch, Patrick Warburton, Michael Dorn, Dennis Haysbert, John Slattery, Ron Canada, erstwhile Flash Gordon Sam J. Jones (also encoring from the first Ted), and Super Bowl MVP and “Deflategate” suspension recipient Tom Brady. But they’re not enough to keep the momentum from grinding to a halt in the second half of the film, which runs almost two hours – and hardly needed to. Ted 2 may earn some decent summer coin at the box-office, but the franchise is looking rather threadbare – no pun intended.

The Overnight: Consenting and contrasting adults

Alex (Adam Scott) and Emily (Taylor Schilling) are new to Los Angeles and eager to jump into the West Coast mindset. While playing with their young son R.J. (newcomer R.J. Hermes) in a local park, they strike up an immediate rapport with Kurt (Jason Schwartzman), who’s there with his own son Max (newcomer Max Moritt).

Kurt oozes confident California cool and appears most enthusiastic to make friends with Alex and Emily, immediately inviting them everyone over for a “playdate” so the kids and grown-ups can get better acquainted.

Kurt’s wife Charlotte (Judith Godreche), a sometimeactress, is equally friendly, and the two couples hit it off.

Once the kids are put to bed for the night, in one of the film’s funniest sequences, the wine starts to flow, the weed starts to blow, and skinny-dipping in the pool commences – at which point Amelia observes that “the hip California vibe” has become “a swinger’s vibe.”

She’s right, of course. Like the evening itself, the film is funny, breezy, sexy, and vaguely unsettling at times. Not unlike the recent high-school reunion comedy The D Train, The Overnight finds humor in the characters’ – and the audience’s – discomfort. Yet it’s never mean-spirited or ugly.

Thanks to writer/director Patrick Bruce’s brisk pacing and an engaging ensemble of actors, the film and its characters (quirky though they are) remain likable and sympathetic, even under the wackiest of circumstances – which do indeed get wacky. Scott (also a producer), Schilling, Goodreche and a particularly funny Schwartzman make The Overnight a party worth attending.

The Overnight opens Friday at a/perture cinema, Winston- Salem !

LOG ONTO — click on the “Flicks” section. Then go to “What’s Showing”