The following is a review of The LEGO Movie 2: The Second Part — Directed by Mike Mitchell.
Phil Lord and Chris Miller’s The LEGO Movie was, frankly, not just one of the best surprises of 2014. It was also one of the best movies of the year. The film’s first follow-up was the Batman spin-off, The LEGO Batman Movie, which, surprisingly, did not ‘exist in,’ so to speak, the real world like Lord and Miller’s hit did. The LEGO Batman Movie was a clever animated hit that I enjoyed greatly, though not as much as I enjoyed Lord and Miller’s LEGO-film. Then they released The LEGO Ninjago Movie which I couldn’t care less about when it was announced. I did see the film eventually, though, but it didn’t speak to me, and I didn’t enjoy it at all. Now we finally have a proper sequel to that first LEGO movie-hit. And although I don’t think it lives up to my expectations, it is a perfectly fine animated sequel.
Though the film does open by continuing where Lord and Miller’s film left off, Mike Mitchell’s The Second Part mostly takes place five years after the events of the 2014 hit. Emmett (voiced by Chris Pratt) and his friends’ world has gone full-on post-apocalyptic. Their world has been destroyed by Duplo, and everyone is just trying to get by. Batman (voiced by Will Arnett) and Wyldstyle (voiced by Elizabeth Banks) both thrive here, but Emmett wants something more. Emmett wants stability, a home, a family, and happiness. While everyone else is brooding, he’s listening to the latest remix of the first film’s hit song “Everything is Awesome!” This bleak and gritty world doesn’t agree with him, and Wyldstyle wants him to grow up.
One day, Emmett has a vision of another looming apocalyptic event known as the ‘armamageddon,’ and before they can fully react to it or do anything about it, Wyldstyle, Batman, MetalBeard (voiced by Nick Offerman), Unikitty (voiced by Alison Brie), and Benny (voiced by Charlie Day) are all kidnapped by a mysterious general who wants to take their leaders to his world’s leader, Watevra Wa’Nabi (voiced by Tiffany Haddish). Together with his new acquaintance Rex Dangervest (also voiced by Chris Pratt), Emmett must try to save his friends from Watevra Wa’Nabi and stop the looming armamageddon.
There are a lot of curious things about this sequel. For one, I was surprised by how many of the references made in this film will likely be indistinguishable or unrecognizable for young viewers. One new character is basically Snake Plissken as a LEGO-figure (that doubles as a satirization of Chris Pratt’s career), the first act mostly takes place in a world that directly references Mad Max: Fury Road in every way possible, and the film also, pretty clearly, references The Twilight Zone. Sure, it’ll make the film more acceptable for parents or adults in general — I definitely enjoyed many of the references — but it did start to make me think about what things will actually be appealing to kids about this movie. Sure, they’re LEGOs, but is that enough?
Of course, there is one thing about this movie that may appeal to young audiences. It’s a lot of fun, but, unlike the previous LEGO films, The Second Part is a musical. Characters break out into song, and Watevra Wa’Nabi has a full-on musical performance at one point. There is even a recurring song that is sure to be screamed by kids as they leave the theater, but which is absolutely infuriatingly annoying.
It is basically the song version of the bit in Dumb and Dumber when the main characters say “Do you want to hear the most annoying sound in the world?” and then lose their minds uncontrollably in a fit of idiocy. I loathed it. But it is, again, the kind of song that I’m sure some kids may enjoy.
I would also say that this film loses itself in the real world. Lord and Miller’s 2014 film had a great real world reveal, and even though this sequel does expand upon that, it complicates our understanding of the way the LEGO world works with the human world, but not in a good way.
“This isn’t even happening. It’s all just the expression of the death of imagination in the subconscious of an adolescent.”
I think the film tries to say multiple different things, but it muddles the message somewhat. It cautions against trying to change someone, as well as trying to mature too quickly. It cautions against hardening your heart. Perhaps it cautions against the roots of toxic masculinity. But its clearest message is the problem with sibling rivalries. Sadly, it jumbles many of these important messages.
But it is a fun movie. And it is clever in moments. I’m sure this will appeal to kids, and there is no doubt in my mind that the references will keep parents entertained. Even though the message isn’t communicated as smoothly as it should’ve been, it does try to say some important things, and I appreciated its attempts to actually inform young viewers about the foolishness of sibling rivalries. Also, the first song during the credits is genuinely awesome, seeing as it makes you want to stay during the credits even without promises of another new scene at the end.
Everything isn’t awesome in Mike Mitchell’s The LEGO Movie 2: The Second Part. That statement doubles as both a reference to a song in the film and a comment about the quality of the sequel. It’s a fairly good but undeniably underwhelming sequel that, even when I enjoyed it, made me question the lifespan of these films. I think these films are losing their sheen.
7 out of 10
– Jeffrey Rex Bertelsen.