The Lego Movie 2: The Second Part
Updated: Feb 8, 2020
In 2014, The Lego Movie burst onto the scene with a mix of creative animation and a witty screenplay. Movies based on toys do not have the best track record, but it blew people away with its cleverness and became a critical/commercial smash. Lego followed that up with an equally good superhero parody (The Lego Batman Movie) and a bad kung-fu parody (The Lego Ninjago Movie). Now comes The Lego Movie 2: The Second Part, which does not match the freshness of the original. All four are similar in style, so the formula is beginning to show some wear. The characters prove strong enough to overcome that, while carrying a slightly more complicated narrative. Like its predecessor, it is consistently funny, with nonstop gags.
This time around, Emmet, Wyldstyle, Batman and the rest of the gang have to deal with an alien invasion that turns Bricksburg into an apocalyptic wasteland. The only one unfazed by this new reality is Emmet, who is as chipper and optimistic as ever. When Wyldstyle and the others get abducted, Emmet has to find his inner tough guy in order to save the day.
This story is taken almost, kind of, seriously and leans fairly heavily on messages of friendship, trust and being true to oneself. It is also filled to the brim with pop culture references. Normally, that approach bothers me in a family movie. It comes off as pandering to older audiences. Here, it works. The references fit the plot as well as the characters. It definitely helps that more than a few of them are hilarious. Additionally, The Second Part (94 minutes, minus the end credits) never stops moving. That pace does not feel frenetic. It comes off as a child excitedly playing with their toys, refusing to slow down for fear their parents will call them upstairs at any second.
Much like in the earlier movies, the way the building blocks are animated takes full advantage of their attributes. I remain impressed with the way the falling bricks spray all over the place when a creation is broken apart. You can actually see individual pieces flying through the air. The look of a Lego playset come to life is still charming. In animation, the possibilities are as endless as the filmmakers’ imagination. Legos can be the same way. Both Lego Movies understand that and use it to enhance their stories, characters and jokes.
In my review of The Lego Ninjago Movie, I wrote that the Lego Cinematic Universe needed to switch up their formula next time because it was starting to get stale. Well, they did not, however this is a significantly better production, so it does not show as much. That said, something a little more story-based or slightly more serious might be a welcome change. Eventually, these wacky, fast-paced, self-referential comedies will start to feel too similar. Though if the screenplays are as amusing as this one, maybe it will be a bit before that happens.
The filmmakers have, once again, put together an awesome voice cast. Chris Pratt, Elizabeth Banks, Will Arnett, Alison Brie, Nick Offerman and Charlie Day all return. Pratt is great as the adorably clueless Emmet. He also gets to poke at his own screen image when Emmet attempts to become a macho action hero. Banks ably carries a lot of the plot as the insecure Wyldstyle. Arnett continues to do a fantastic sendup of Batman. The most important newcomer is Tiffany Haddish as the alien queen. She is very funny, inserting some of her persona into a character who insists she has noble intentions, but not always convincingly. All of the actors are given good lines they are able to spin in humorous directions.
The Lego Movie 2: The Second Part is a sequel to something unique and different. It is hard for a follow-up to capture those same qualities. This one does not, quite. Yet it is not a complete retread either. It builds on the themes, characters and jokes as they were presented in the first entry, along with the story. It tries to be a continuation and not just do the same things in a somewhat different way. It does not have that feeling of discovery, but how could it? We have already discovered this world. Still, it is pretty fun to play in it again.
3¾ out of 5
Chris Pratt as Emmet Brickowski
Elizabeth Banks as Wyldstyle
Will Arnett as Batman
Tiffany Haddish as Queen Watevra Wa’Nabi
Stephanie Beatriz as General Mayhem
Alison Brie as Unikitty
Nick Offerman as Metal Beard
Charlie Day as Benny
Directed by Mike Mitchell
Screenplay by Phil Lord and Christopher Miller