Leaves of Grass – Two Eds Are Better Than One?

What up, Buttercups?

This is really a film of two parts. It follows the stories of a pair of twins (Brady and Bill) both played by Ed Norton.

Brady is a weed farmer with a relaxed attitude and Bill leads a buttoned down life as a professor and renowned philosopher. The plot is basically Brady wants to go clean and needs Bills help to do so. Hi-jinks ensue.

But there are moments of brilliance. Kerri Russell plays a poet with a beautiful world view who can also noodle a catfish. Reciting Walt Whitman while gutting a catfish is odd but a perfect juxtaposition for a character that his this unique world view while living back where she grew up.

Whereas Bill would rather be away from the small town life and his family.

It’s stated early on in the film that Brady is the smarter of the two and it shows. He has his own ideas about the world. It’s a simpler view than his brother’s. He is filling the film’s role as a permanently stoned philosopher. A man who has the ‘mojo’ to talk people into doing things they don’t want to, or more accurately, talking them into doing things they don’t think they want to.

Its a story of how two people so alike can be comfortable in different skins. Brady is happy in his little world. He his friends, his girlfriend and is about to become a Dad.

Bill, on the other hand, is living this single almost lonely life in Rhode Island. He’s on the career fast track and can talk beautifully about his subject but everything in his life is skewed towards discipline. He teaches the classics and during the first few minutes of the movie he espouses the notion that logic and passion are irreconcilable. That for the few fleeting moments that we think we have a balance between the two of them we are pretending to be God and are heading for a fall.

So the comedy in the film is very formulaic. Two people forced into a situation while they have wildly different attitudes. It’s very much in the vein of the Odd Couple. Then they add in a “It’s not what it looks like” subplot between Bill and one of his students and a blackmail subplot.

It’s not Hollywood’s finest movie. There are times when I was watching this film that I was overwhelmed with the feeling that when this film was being made they weren’t sure what they wanted it to be. There are moments of comedy, romance, deep thought and crime.

This is an odd film. One that I’m not sure I’d watch again considering I struggled to get through it the first time. There were moments of brilliance sprinkled throughout the film but it quickly dissolved into a mess that left me feeling so much of the potential in this film was wasted. It feels like nothing gets resolved.

The epiphany comes at the very end. There are murders and some romance and acceptance in some form but it all feels hollow in a beautiful way.

It’s a film about acceptance; of where we come from, of who we are and the life we find ourselves living. There is an element of facing our fears and, by facing them, realising there is nothing to be scared of in the first place and continuing to be afraid of them is pointless.

There are a lot of setups for jokes and comedy moments that don’t pay off in the way you’d think they should and I can’t decide if that’s bad writing or something new that didn’t work out as first intended.

Richard Dreyfuss plays a Jewish drug kingpin for a handful of minutes and Susan Saradon plays Brady and Bill’s hippy mother again in a role that feels more like a cameo.

There is plenty talent in the picture but the story feels somewhere between a life changing movie and a crime caper.

My biggest feeling after watching this is that there was so much potential that went untapped.

RTJ

Ted 2 – Romancing the Stoner

What up, Buttercups?

I saw Ted 2 when it was in cinemas way back in 2015. I saw it as part of a date and night out with my then girlfriend.

My first impression of the film was that it was an unnecessary sequel. The original Ted was almost an adult version of Toy story. What happens when the kid grows up and so does the toy?

It was interesting and this was back during a time when Family Guy, American Dad and, by extension, Seth MacFarlane could do no wrong.

Ted 2 is part of the fall of Seth MacFarlane. It came a year after A million Ways to Die in the West; which, let’s face it, isn’t exactly pure gold and Ted 2 follows in that vein.

I rewatched it before writing this and the first thing that struck me was the entire unnecessary dance number right at the beginning for the opening credits.

From there the rest of the film is almost a set of loosely connected skits and cameos before we get to about the halfway mark where it feels like someone finally asked: what’s the actual story? Whereas Ted had a fairly well put together story that had well-placed comedic moments that fed into the plot and enhanced the story.

Ted (voiced by Seth MacFarlane) wants to adopt a child with his wife but can’t because he is a living teddy bear and has no rights because he’s technically property. This means that he and his newly divorced best friend John Bennet (Mark Wahlberg) need to go to court to get him his rights back.

They are joined by their lawyer Sam L Jackson (Amanda Seyfried) who loves to get stoned but is completely oblivious to their pop culture references.

The best part of the entire film for me is Sam’s rendition of Mean Ole Moon in the middle of a field after Ted crashes the car into a barn. Considering she was in Mamma Mia I’d completely forgotten she could sing. It’s a beautiful mellow moment after all the jokes about a dick shaped bong and a rip off of Jurassic park where, instead of dinosaurs, they stumble across a field of pot. Ted reciting the line “They do move in herds.”

There are cameos aplenty; Sam Jones, Tom Brady, Liam Neeson, Jay Leno. All of whom are the centre of a little one-off joke that does little to further the plot. There’s also a bizarre music video segment in the middle of the film that feels much like an homage to the Breakfast Club and Seth MacFarlane’s known love for EVERYTHING from the 80s.

The humour in the film comes in a few different flavours:

1) Gross out (John getting covered in jizz at a fertility clinic).

2) Ridiculously, stupidly offensive (See the first courtroom scene where Ted likens himself to the “fags” before changing it to “homos”).

3) Pop culture references that Sam doesn’t get (mostly jokes about the size of Amanda Seyfried’s eyes – Like we didn’t get enough of that in a Million Ways to Die in the West – and Gollum references).

4) Stoner humour (mostly in the vein of funny names for various blends of pot and the effects they have).

There are a few meta moments. My favourite is Guy (Patrick Warburton) at Comic Con dressed as The Tic – a reference to him being playing the character earlier in his career.

Considering the film deals with big themes of humanity and civil rights, so much of the writing in the film feels lazy. There are jokes that seem to have been yanked straight out of rejected Family Guy episodes. They bear (pun intended) the same fingerprint as any Pete Griffin story from the show.

Maybe that’s another meta riff to follow up on a throw away joke fropm the first film that Ted’s voice sounds like Peter Griffin but if so it’s poorly executed.

And yet…

And yet.

I still enjoyed this film.

After all that you might think I hate it. I don’t. It’s an enjoyable film if you just want to get a little drunk and turn your mind off. Maybe it helped that I was drunk when I rewatched it but it was enjoyable enough that I wasn’t actively throwing my head back and wishing God would make it stop. It will never be in my top ten list of films… but it’s also not a film I’d turn over if I found out it was on.

RTJ