THE LEGO MOVIE 2: THE SECOND PART
WRITTEN BY: Phil Lord & Chris Miller
DIRECTED BY: Mike Mitchell
STARRING: Chris Pratt, Elizabeth Banks, Will Arnett, Stephanie Beatriz, Tiffany Hadish, Maya Rudolph
2019, PG; 106 minutes.
(Bob has a video review of the movie, and the other four in the series here)
Sing with me! Everything is awesome! [repeat ad nasueum]. Like just about everyone else, I as reticent at the announcement of The Lego Movie. While there had been direct-to-video films based around the Danish building-blocks, a feature could have easily been a cynical corporate-cash grab. While the company is noted a “not-evil” corporation, it was an easy reaction to think “this will be a 100 minute toy-commercial.” To everyone’s surprise The LEGO Movie was a hilarious, heart-felt, clever love-letter to 50 years of the toys (and the Intellectual Properties they’ve licensed) with an unexpected story of creativity vs following-the-instructions and adult/child-hood with the live action story of Dad (Will Ferrell, also voicing the villainous Lord Business) and son Finn (Jadon Sand). Both wanting me to buy their toys, but also subverting corporate culture, the film was able to be best of both worlds. Critically and commercially a hit, two movies followed: the possibly best Batman movie The LEGO Batman Movie and the Bob Didn’t See It LEGO Ninjago Movie (I’ll be watching it soon though).
It’s five years later, and now we have a direct sequel to the original (Batman movie gets a few mentions, not sure if anything relates to Ninjago). Everything is not as awesome, but it comes damned close. Replicating a surprise success and still being fresh and creative on it’s own is a hard build. There are many pieces to put together, and too many single pieces lost into the carpet for your foot to find can cause issues. Rest assured, the sequel is just as funny, taking the story in a slightly different directions and continuing have a heart-based story behind the fun action. Add in a few songs, and new characters voiced by Stephanie Beatriz (Rosa from Brooklyn 99) and Tiffany Hadish (a bunch of movies from last year no one saw) and a new setting of space (cue Benny’s enthusiasm) and we have a well-built movie.
Storywise, the sequel first picks up from the Duplo-invasion of the original film. As the leads from the original are manifestations of story from Finn (returning Jadon Sand), the Duplos are his younger sister Bianca. As the three year old, she and her Legos wont’ play by the rules and actively destroy anything bright and colorful. Thus, jumping five years later, Bricksville is a Mad Max-inspired wasteland. Emmet (Chris Pratt) continues to be just as cheery and naive as the rest of the world “grows up” around him. Soon, alien General Mayhem (Beatriz) arrive and steal away WildSyle (Elizabeth Banks) and the four other returning specials Batman (Will Arnett), Unikitty (Alison Brie), Benny The Space-Man (Charlie Day), and Metalbeard (Nick Offerman; Morgan Freeman doesn’t come back) to a space world. Thus, Emmett must take it on himself to rescue them. He meets up with Rex Dangervest, every teenage boys version of the Coolest Guy Ever, complete with a spaceship filled with velociraptors (their subtitles is a great running gag) and Pratt putting on a Kurt Russell voice. Meanwhile, the rest of the gang works to free themselves from Queen Watevra Wa’Nabi (Hadish). She’s totally not evil – just listen to her great song about it! Her introduction song and the one where she negs Batman into marrying her are two other highlights.
There is a lot more going on story-wise than the generally straight forward first film, leading a slightly disjointed plotting. It’s not too distracting as is needed for the story telling. Where the is an issue is the outside story. The father/son story of the original was a huge third act surprise, bringing a realness and a message-that-hits-home. Now that the cards are revealed, the filmmakers – returning writers Phil Lord and Chris Miller, this time during directing over to Mike Mitchell (director of Trolls, Shrek Forever After and the tragically forgotten Sky High) – are forced to keep this aspect and lace it through the film earlier, each time sliding the viewer a little out of the animated story. The story movies from father/son to brother/sister; reflecting the boy growing older and thus looking at “Darker” aspects of the toys throught he Mad Max like Bricksburgh and the Rex character. Many of us can relate to that story, and its mostly well done but it does lead to some issues. While the last one was clearly the son telling the story, this story has to be on both brother and sister causing it to be a bit muddled for the viewer if thinking of the real world version of it. Especially when a time-travel aspect is brought in. I see its’ purpose but it doesn’t add up.
The animation, one of the many strong points five years, is smoother and more detailed as well as one would expect with a few years of advancement, with a standout in the smooth continual transitions of the Queen. While it steers away from the sometimes-stop-motion look to parts, the design is incredible. There are some huge sets here, but with such minute detail it’s astounding. There is no skimping or shortcuts. We are rewarded with a visual treat in all aspects. The voice acting is just as strong, with Beatiz and Hadish making wonderful additions. The songs are just as catchy and earwomy as “Everything Is Awesome” and use that tune to best effect as well.
Overall, The Lego Movie 2: The Second Part is often as clever and fun as the original – I laughed just as hard at the jokes; rarely are they easy repetitions of the original and often they are well-written-call-backs though, loved the new characters and their songs, and had a fantastic couple of hours at the movies despite the few flaws. Phil Lord and Chris Miller continue to create entertainment that is reflexive of the genres and expectations, continually creative both written and visual, and refusing to pander to children – creating family films that are just as enjoyable to those of us without kids. Clone High, the Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs movies, the Jump Street films (those aren’t family films but eh), Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse, and now multiple LEGO Movies, unless you’re LucasFilm, they can’t do wrong.
I give THE LEGO MOVIE 2: THE SECOND PART an A-.