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Seth MacFarlane looks to establish comedy dominance with “Ted 2”

Seth McFarlane A Million Ways to Die in the West 600x330
For today’s piece, I want to try something a little bit different, especially because this isn’t the first time I’ve spoken of Seth MacFarlane here. Last year, I wrote about MacFarlane as a future A-list comedy filmmaker on the eve of his sophomore feature A Million Ways to Die in the West opening. Then, that movie underperformed, so he’s still waiting for that second hit (after Ted) to solidify his cinematic standing in the same way that he has on television. Well, this weekend he has the opportunity with Ted 2, so I wanted to repost part of my MacFarlane piece, updated with some Ted 2 extra goodness. Hopefully this is a fun idea, since honestly…it’s fun sometimes to double dip and give something another go.

Below you’ll see a re-edited look at my thoughts last year on MacFarlane, tailored more now for Ted 2 than A Million Ways to Die in the West, along with some extra remarks on that new flick. Take a gander:

We’ve known for years now that Seth MacFarlane was one of the kings of animated television comedy, but it was only a few years ago that we saw him conquer cinemas as well with his directorial debut Ted. The film was hilarious, clever, and better received by critics than anyone was expecting. In a heartbeat, MacFarlane had the keys to the Hollywood comedy kingdom. If his new movie (Ted 2, this time) is a success this weekend, could MacFarlane be on his way to surpassing Judd Apatow as the biggest comedic filmmaker out there?

To be fair, that’s not exactly an apt comparison. Apatow and MacFarlane are both masters of different crafts, with the former also someone who consistently has his hands in more pies and seems to have somewhat artier ambitions at times. They’re also shooting at different audiences now too. The people that came out in droves for The 40 Year Old Virgin and Knocked Up aren’t the same targets for Funny People and This is 40. In fact, they’re the target audience for Ted, A Million Ways to Die in the West, and Ted 2. If his newest work is a big hit like his debut as the character, MacFarlane will certainly be able to at least stake the claim that there’s nobody bigger in comedy today than him.

While his work is far from highbrow, I think his writing doesn’t get enough credit. I’ve actually enjoyed A Million Ways to Die in the West, perhaps one of the few who did, and while it’s not a total gut buster, it’s very funny and a few of the jokes made me laugh fairly loudly. He’s got a talent for getting you to giggle at things you normally wouldn’t. He’s no Brooks, but it’s at least a similar sort of skill set.

Ideally, I’d say that he should focus on writing and directing as opposed to having to star in his projects, since with a slightly more focused director’s eye, he could really wind up a true filmmaker. Right now he’s still getting the hang of that, but if his direction can catch up to his writing, well…that’d really be something. The visuals of A Million Ways to Die in the West last year were the first step there, along with Ted and Ted 2’s visual effect for the title character.

Right now, we have Ted 2 hitting this weekend to entertain comedy fans. This sequel to the first one stars MacFarlane as a talking teddy bear, alongside best friend John (played by Mark Wahlberg). This time around, he and his bride Tami-Lynn (Jessica Barth) want to have a child, but the state of Massachussetts rules him as property and prevents that. Ted fights back though, with Amanda Seyfried playing his legal counsel. Returning this time out are Giovanni Ribisi, Sam J. Jones, Patrick Warburton, and others, alongside newcomers like Morgan Freeman, John Carroll Lynch, and John Slattery. McFarlane also directs and co-writes with Alec Sulkin and Wellesley Wild.

It’ll probably be a few years before we truly know where MacFarlane stands in the business, but if at least one other original project besides a Ted sequel becomes a hit, we’ll know that he’s officially in the top tier of comedy filmmakers and could very well be the king of them, at least at that moment. If nothing else, it’ll be fun to see where his career goes. At the very least, we know he has a comfortable home on television with Family Guy and his other shows. He’s dominated TV, so the film world might be next…

Be sure to check out Ted 2 on Friday and see where MacFarlane goes next!

About Joey Magidson

A graduate of Stony Brook University (where he studied Cinema and Cultural Studies), resides in Brooklyn, New York. He contributes to several other film-related websites and is a member of the Broadcast Film Critics Association.

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