Max Last I checked, "Max" was the most popular dog name in the U.S., which means that Ted Geisel's widow could push a hell of a nuisance lawsuit if she got smart. Sadly, this movie has nothing to do with Mount Crumpet's most illustrious quadruped. Instead, it's the cinematic equivalent of one of those feel-good TV commercials in which a delightful doggie welcomes his master home from military duty overseas. Only this time, it's the animal that comes home – without his Marine buddy, who died in the line of duty. And it's up to ol' Max to help the dead warrior's family heal. Heard enough? Me too. (clears throat) Screw you, director Boaz Yakin. Screw you, stars Josh Wiggins, Thomas Haden Church and Lauren Graham. Screw everybody who had anything to do with this cynical attempt to put an "Awwww" on a generation's worth of wholly avoidable tragedy. And screw anybody else who ever tried to push a commercial product by exploiting the suffering of human beings who died in defense of yet more commercial interests. May that dog bite all your genitals off. Good soldier, Max; good soldier. (PG)
Ted 2 It's too bad this sequel wasn't made at the tail end of the silent era, because then Seth MacFarlane and company could have used the tag line "TED talks." But que sera, sera. In the followup to one of the most successful R-rated comedies of all time, our faux-furry hero is married and looking to have a baby. That means scoring some donor sperm from old pal Jawn – and if you think having to solicit the DNA of Mark Wahlberg is ignominy enough, wait until the legal system gets hold of Ted and demands that he prove he's a real human being. Think carefully: Could Ben Carson survive that line of questioning? Similar uncertainties hang over this movie, since everything MacFarlane has done since the first Ted – including the box-office dud A Million Ways to Die in the West and his absurdly maligned stint hosting the Oscars – has contributed to the portrait of a career flameout. I also lament the absence of Mila Kunis, whose performance in Ted the first didn't get nearly the recognition it deserved for sidestepping the whiny-girlfriend stereotype so many movies of this nature descend to. In Kunis' place is Amanda Seyfried, whose arrival I don't feel one way or another about. At least not until we see her boobs. (R)
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