The LEGO Movie 2: The Second Part
2019, PG, 90 min. Directed by Mike Mitchell. Voices by Chris Pratt, Elizabeth Banks, Will Arnett, Tiffany Haddish, Stephanie Beatriz, Alison Brie, Nick Offerman, Charlie Day, Channing Tatum. Starring Maya Rudolph, Jadon Sand, Brooklynn Prince, Will Ferrell.
REVIEWED By Steve Davis, Fri., Feb. 8, 2019
Everything is still pretty dang awesome in this waggishly entertaining sequel to one of the most creative animated movies released in recent memory. Upon first viewing half a decade ago, The LEGO Movie enthralled and (better yet!) surprised in a way that upturned all expectations about a film that deceptively appeared on its face to be a feature-length advertisement for a Danish toy. But now that we’re aware of the human ingenuity shaping the adventures of good-guy Emmet (Pratt) in a world composed entirely of colorful, interlocking plastic bricks, the wow factor has unavoidably dimmed a little.
Picking up exactly where the first film ended and then quickly fast-forwarding five years, Phil Lord and Christopher Miller’s smartly conceived screenplay constructs and then deconstructs two competing Lego universes: one, a bleak dystopian landscape of Mad Max-inspired mayhem from the adolescent male imagination of the now-teenage Finn (Sand) from the original movie, and the other, a bright and sparkly kingdom of girlish whimsy imagined by his younger sibling, Bianca (Prince). While The LEGO Movie 2 may be faulted for its traditional gender biases, the big brother/little sister conflict mines territory with a specificity that will hit home for some adults in the audience, depending on past familial experiences. While the sequel lacks a third-act revelation on par with the first movie, the big surprise here is not a narrative twist, but an unexpected tug on the heart.
The laughs come at a steady pace, with most of them courtesy of the subtitles translating the squawking dialogue of a horde of minion raptors employed by a new tough-guy character named Rex Dangervest (also voiced by Pratt, but with a John Wayne cadence and a nod to his role in Jurassic World). Compared to the original film and the subsequent Batman-themed follow-up, the secondary characters here are few and far between, reducing the possibilities for nudge-nudge humor. (Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, however, makes a brief appearance.) But the movie’s constant meta-comedy recognition of the endearing yet aggravating earworm quality of the first film’s “Everything Is Awesome” theme song may be its most effectual in-joke. Because once you’ve again heard that tune in its various incarnations in this sequel, good luck getting it out of your head.