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.
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