'The Lego Movie 2: The Second Part' Has All the Building Blocks of a Fan Favorite

Dir. Mike Mitchell—4 STARS

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After a five year wait, screenwriting duo Phil Lord and Chris Miller have delivered “The Lego Movie 2: The Second Part,” a worthy sequel that is wonderfully meta, colorful, and fun for all. Since the 2014 original hit, life for the wholesome, ever-cheery Emmet Brickowski (Chris Pratt), resident badass Lucy (Elizabeth Banks), and perpetually broody Batman (Will Arnett) has become decidedly “not awesome.” Their homeland has been turned into a post-apocalyptic wasteland, and Lego Duplo creatures, however innocent and friendly they may seem, begin to attack and eventually capture Emmet’s pals. Launched headfirst into another high-action, comedic adventure, Emmet must travel to the distant “Systar System” to save his friends and the world as he knows it from being dumped into the void known as the “Bin of Storage.”

At its surface, nothing about this movie’s plot screams originality — it is quite similar to its predecessor, except that the threat of being frozen by a Krazy Glue-wielding Lord Business (Will Ferrell) has been replaced by the threat of being thrown into a dark plastic bin forever. What makes “The Lego Movie 2: The Second Part” so enjoyable, however, is how hilariously self-referential it is. Of course, this children’s movie doesn’t have any fourth wall breaks à la Austin Powers, but its willingness to constantly acknowledge that it is a Hollywood movie full of famous actors with familiar reputations allows for some brilliant laughs. Trying to top the original film’s trademark hit, “Everything is Awesome,” is certainly challenging, but instead of trying to come up with a new optimistic catchphrase and groundbreaking melody, songwriter Jonathan Lajoie landed on “Catchy Song.” With the repetitive lyric “This song’s gonna get stuck inside your head,” the tune certainly delivers on its promise — the swarms of children shout-singing it as they walked out of the theater is proof enough. Since the new installment is chock-full of other memorable but borderline annoying songs, Lucy acts as a mouthpiece for many parents in the audience dragged to the showing by their children when she huffs, “Are we in a musical?”

One of the most meta but also most delightful parts of the entire movie was probably the not-too-subtle wink at Chris Pratt and his transformation from lovable comic with a “dad bod” into an action hero hunk. On his way to the Systar System, Emmet runs into Rex Dangervest, a rougher, tougher Lego figurine who is also voiced by Chris Pratt. Pratt commands a barely recognizable husky voice as Dangervest, and explains his backstory as a space superhero, raptor trainer, and someone who used to have a lot of baby fat that he has since lost. It’s reassuring that Pratt has remained humble enough in his quick rise to A-lister fame and has a good enough sense of humor to laugh at himself in this manic joyride of a film.

With all its energy and goofiness, “The Lego Movie 2” is a masterclass in how to make a great family movie that appeals to both the young and the old. It has plenty of bright colors, musical numbers, and slapstick humor to keep kids entertained and giggling. The visual effects are just as engaging and impressive as they were in the first film, and the animators even upped the ante with Queen Watevra Wa’Nabi (Tiffany Haddish) whose shapeshifting, amorphous look must have been a pain to animate in Lego form.


Yet the film fails to live up to its predecessor, namely because all of the gang’s adventures are just the result of a real life boy Finn (Jadon Sand) and his sister Bianca (Brooklynn Prince) fighting over their toys. While this twist made the entertaining “The Lego Movie” more endearing and complete, it only makes the plot more convoluted and existentially terrifying this time around. At the start of the sequel, this concept still matched well with the storyline as an older, angstier Finn switched out his childish Lego set for the edgier, apocalyptic desert one, and his sister stole some of his toys to add to her pink, glittery one upstairs. It is the point in the movie where Emmet and Rex Dangervest are able to truly move on their own — presumably by sheer force of will, though the movie never makes it clear — where the movie begins to contradict itself. The inconsistent role of humans in these figurines’ lives raises a lot of logistical questions that never get resolved. How sentient are these little figurines? Why do they only occasionally realize their being manipulated by humans? What would happen if humans ever saw them move? While “Toy Story” made us think twice about our toys when we left the room, “The Lego Movie 2” makes us wonder whether the ones at the bottom of the pile in that cardboard box in the attic are paralyzed in tortuous darkness. A younger audience probably wouldn’t dwell on such concerns unless they rewatch the movie later in life, though these dark unresolved questions are unusually off-putting for such an upbeat movie.

Basing a movie almost purely on timely pop culture references is always a risky endeavor. Rather than trying to rein in nonstop shout-outs to our current culture in order to produce something timeless, Lord and Miller have fully and shamelessly embraced the pop culture material. Of course, this film won’t age like a fine wine or be scrutinized in pretentious film classes for generations. But that’s not the point. No matter what the future holds for this film, in 2019, where pop-culture is only a Google search away, “The Lego Movie 2” makes for a cheerful two hours and a great way to kick off any weekend.

—Staff writer Samantha J. O’Connell can be reached at sam.o’


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