— by Jeff Schultz
I am writing this review in Milan, an exciting place to visit, whether it’s culture, history and art that get you off, or fashion, shopping and all things luxe. (If it’s both, then enjoy the orgasm.) Unfortunately, much of Europe, including Lombardic Italy, has been kneecapped by a severe heat wave, bringing some three weeks (so far) of near-hundred-degree temperatures with wilting humidity. Even after sunset, it can remain in the 90’s through midnight — so after a day of sweat-drenched walking, an air-conditioned movie theatre is appealing. That’s what brought me to TED 2, which (being a typical American hegemonist) I hoped would be in English with Italian subtitles. The ticket seller disabused me: dubbed yes, no subtitles. But I thought, what the hell, at least it’ll be cool, and fun to see how many of the laughs I can decipher. This was at a multiplex in the heart of the city, right by the famous Duomo (and a McDonalds), and the first difference I noticed from America is that the listed start time means the start time of the feature: the trailers all play before that. (As for those trailers, at least ten were shown, and every one was for a Hollywood film — no home-grown or non-English productions.) Now, going in I was somewhat familiar with TED 2’s plot from reading some reviews, so I was largely able to follow the story. What was more difficult was the wordplay, especially pop culture references that seem unfamiliar to Italians, at least based on this particular audience. When Ted and Mark Wahlberg watch “Law & Order”, Ted sings made-up lyrics to the series’ famous theme song — which didn’t rate a chuckle. When Jay Leno walks out of a men’s room in a cameo, there seemed to be no recognition. Broad comic scenes such as at the sperm bank when Wahlberg gets drenched in semen scored. But people (and it was a young crowd) didn’t seem to find all the pot smoking too funny. All of the above was easy to “get” no matter what the language. But there were other times when people did laugh at the banter between Ted and Mark that I couldn’t figure out what was being said. Which was frustrating, because even at maybe 30% comprehension, I was enjoying the movie. And then, a strange thing happened, which may be a custom at many or all the cinemas here: about halfway through, the movie just… stopped. The lights came up and a card appeared on screen advising a five-minute break for people to go get popcorn. It seemed the perfect point to end my experiment, so I up and left, vowing to watch TED 2 in English on my return, where I’ll pick up this review in Part 2.