The LEGO Movie 2: The Second Part, 2019.
Directed by Mike Mitchell.
Featuring the voice talents of Chris Pratt, Elizabeth Banks, Will Arnett, Tiffany Haddish, Stephanie Beatriz, Alison Brie, Nick Offerman, Charlie Day, Margot Robbie, Jason Momoa, Channing Tatum, Jonah Hill, Gal Gadot, Arturo Castro, Jadon Sand, Brooklynn Prince, Ben Schwartz, Noel Fielding, Ike Barinholtz, Will Forte, Ralph Fiennes, Jimmy O. Yang, Jorma Taccone, Todd Hansen, Maya Rudolph, Will Ferrell, and Bruce Willis.
It’s been five years since everything was awesome and the citizens are facing a huge new threat: Lego Duplo invaders from outer space, wrecking everything faster than they can rebuild.
Everything is slightly less awesome, but still pretty awesome. Picking up quite literally where The LEGO Movie left off, The LEGO Movie 2: The Second Part sees Bricksburg invaded by an assortment of cutesy DUPLO LEGOS representing the kind of toys a young girl might play with, which makes sense considering the genius revelation during the ending of the first film showing that these creations are the imagination of a family working out their problems. Specifically, the first time around this was between a father and a son, and the sequel now follows through with a sibling rivalry that, as I’m sure you can imagine, works wonders due to the clashing colors and styles of LEGOS; it’s like watching Batman interact with unicorns and Queens, and just about anything you can think of generally associated with little girls from the perspective of societal norms. Or Mad Max apocalyptic aesthetics occasionally combined with blinding brightness and adorable toys.
Mike Mitchell (initially a worrying choice for this follow-up having helmed Alvin and the Chipmunk live-action features alongside disasters such as Deuce Bigelow: Male Gigolo) is now in the director’s chair, but the screenplay is still from Phil Lord and Christopher Miller, containing much of the referential and meta humor audiences have come to expect from not just any of their projects, but crave from LEGO installments. And while the cast still shines (especially Will Arnett’s Batman who is utilized to great effect exploring many of the film’s deeper lessons, which wisely apply to both children and adults), the energy and machine-gun rapid-fire approach to jokes is noticeably lower, even if audiences of all ages are still going to frequently laugh.
There’s also the diminishing returns aspect; we know what this series is really up to by knowing every character’s actions are basically being controlled by children both looking to have fun and that can’t stand one another. Adults will probably already know every trick The LEGO Movie 2: The Second Part has up its sleeve, and while the execution remains committed and thoughtful, there’s also the lingering sensation that it’s a new, obvious twist on what we have already seen. On top of that, some of the live-action situations during the climax become so unrealistic and goofy that it’s hard to make any logic of it all, which I know sounds bizarre to say about a movie centered on talking LEGOs, so just trust that there is definitely far too much going on here. An argument could be made that this sequel did not need any live-action segments towards its conclusion, as it was always going to be predictable and yield much later dramatic intrigue. With that said, there is still one really good surprise towards the end involving the animation side.
That case is also amplified in strength when one considers that the animation portion (which does make up at least 85% of the film) is already giving subtle lectures on toxicity between friends (and not just toxic masculinity, as a great deal of The LEGO Movie 2: The Second Part is also about Elizabeth Banks’ Wyldstyle’s edginess and her misguided desires for Chris Pratt’s Emmett to transform into more of a bad boy). On top of the musical numbers serving as a catchy delight to listen to you (there is one that is guaranteed to get stuck in your head), there is one in particular between Batman and the DUPLO Queen (a shapeshifting pile of bricks beautifully animated and amusingly voiced by Tiffany Haddish) that speaks volumes on the reactionary tendencies of men. It’s also flat-out hilarious.
Emmett also comes into contact with another LEGO that appears to be the spitting image of what Wyldstyle wishes he could be, but rather than preaching being yourself like every animated movie of the past decade, The LEGO Movie 2: The Second Part goes one step farther and begins encouraging the idea of opening your heart to others no matter how difficult, rather than closing off your emotions and living in isolation. This theme is more directly stated than the others, but rightfully so as it’s definitely something everyone could use to hear. This subplot also involves a group of subtitled talking dinosaurs, because everything is better with dinosaurs.
Of course, most of all The LEGO Movie 2: The Second Part wants to provide comedy, and it does so with a number of irreverent interactions, chaotic action sequences that once again benefit from the meticulously crafted animation style that mimics actual LEGOs, a plethora of cameos and new WTF characters (there’s a banana that can’t stop slipping on his own peel, Larry Poppins, and so much more wackiness that needs to be seen to be believed), and a solid premise that effectively makes use of sometimes how different and oppositional boys and girls play. It’s also less of an onslaught of all of those things than one might expect from this series, but still enough to go around and keep viewers anticipating the inevitable third entry.
Flickering Myth Rating – Film: ★ ★ ★ ★ / Movie: ★ ★ ★
Robert Kojder is a member of the Chicago Film Critics Association and the Flickering Myth Reviews Editor. Check here for new reviews, friend me on Facebook, follow my Twitter or Letterboxd, check out my personal non-Flickering Myth affiliated Patreon, or email me at MetalGearSolid719@gmail.com