Review: “The LEGO Movie 2 – The Second Part”
2014‘s The LEGO Movie seemed at first glance the type of corporate sell-out cinema that many despise. A movie based on toys, really? Hadn’t we learned our lesson from the Transformers films? Yet instead of being a cheap ploy to sell the titular toy, it was instead an intelligent, hilarious film with a message that encouraged creativity. The film helped launch the blockbuster career of Chris Pratt and raised awareness of the witty humor of Phil Lord & Christopher Miller, who recently served as writers and producers on the highly acclaimed Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse. And so, despite the pair having only a writing and production role on this sequel, we awaited it with bated breath.
The LEGO Movie 2: The Second Part is a worthy follow-up in many ways. With a decent part of the voice cast returning, the personality and style of the film feels largely intact. Chris Pratt’s Emmett remains a fun protagonist, and the introduction of a new character, Rex Dangervest, also voiced by Pratt, allows Pratt to have fun and show some range. Will Arnett continues to have fun voicing LEGO Batman, and the film lovingly pokes fun at the tropes of the Dark Knight as well as other superheroes. There are small roles for many currently-famous comedy actors like Charlie Day, Nick Offerman, Jonah Hill, Will Forte, Ben Schwartz, and Ike Barinholtz. There are also cameo roles from a variety of other celebrities that I won’t spoil other than to say that some of them play themselves while others play their famous characters, which makes for an amusing run of meta-jokes.
The script follows up on the twist from the end of the last film: the entire LEGO universe is in the imagination of a young boy, and we received a tease that his younger sister would be coming to wreak havoc on his LEGO world. The sister is played by The Florida Project‘s charming Brooklynn Prince. The LEGO-world story of this film serves as a reflection of the real-world relationship between brother and sister and the pressures of adolescence. This is where the first film proves itself the superior product; the themes of the original were clearer than the mixed messages in this sequel, which feels over-stuffed with messages and ideas that don’t quite work in total. That’s not to say the film is a mess, as the script remains fairly tight story-wise and easy enough to follow. It just has a little too much to say in too little time.
The sequel carries on the joke-a-minute structure of the first entry. Set-ups and zippy one-liners come at a near-constant pace, and while many are quite funny and clever, it can feel a little overwhelming. As with the thematic elements, the humor could use a little more room to breathe.
Despite feeling unrestrained, The Second Part is still a lot of fun. It uses music to great effect, with many satirical songs by the talented Jon Lajoie. The most central song of the film, “Catchy Song,” is indeed designed to get stuck in your head. While the movie might have come together more convincingly if Lord & Miller had directed it, it shows once again that toy-themed storytelling can be effective and inspiring.