At The Movies - The Lego Movie 2 Working To Make Everything Awesome
Five years later I’m still astonished The Lego Movie was great.
For a movie literally all about a specific product, seemingly as shallow and transparently manipulative a movie as it was possible to be, the fact that The Lego Movie was not only good, but incredibly smart, visually compelling, terrifically funny, searingly satirical, and a poignant love letter to creativity above all, is downright miraculous. It really captured the spirit of imagination that Lego construction toys just happen to be a great vessel for.
The Lego Movie 2: The Second Part by merely existing asks if that lightning can strike twice, and it really can’t. Obviously it’s not as fresh or new or exciting as the original, but writers Phil Lord and Christopher Miller (still basking in all the deserved acclaim for Into the Spider-Verse) realize this, and with director Mike Mitchell attempt to cull something different from the vast possibilities of this world while maintaining its sharpness. By and large, The Lego Movie 2 does that wonderfully.
Five years after the Duplo invasion from the end of the first film, the Lego world of Bricksburg has become an apocalyptic wasteland.
Lucy (Elizabeth Banks) has resorted to brooding and despair while Emmett (Chris Pratt) still maintains his cheerful demeanour. But when his sensitivity leads to Lucy and his other friends being captured by the enemy so that the Duplo Queen (Tiffany Haddish) can marry Batman (Will Arnett), Emmett embarks on a mission to rescue them, aided by a roguish adventurer called Rex Dangervest.
The film never forgets the reality that was established in the third act of The Lego Movie, that everything happening in the story is a metaphorical expression of what a child is going through as they play with their Legos.
In the first movie this was the boy Finn (Jadon Sand), but now his sister Bianca (Brooklynn Prince of The Florida Project) is playing too. And a clever thing the movie does with this is keep vague at times whose imagination is driving the story. There are sequences that are pretty assuredly one or the other, but a handful of scenes where it isn’t entirely clear. Much like the first movie, there are hints throughout as to what’s really going on, some of which can be easy to discern (such as the impending “Our-Mom-Ageddon”), but others are a little more ambiguous.
I was apprehensive that this movie might gloss over the cliffhanger ending of the original in favour of a different direction, but not only does it pick up right where its predecessor left off, that ending provides a superb jumping-off point for this movie to tackle new and interesting themes.
Of particular focus is sibling rivalry and sharing, but the film goes deeper.
Beyond merely Finn and Bianca behaving like children who don’t get along do (as we see through Emmett’s glimpses of the real world) and the obvious subtext of Finn essentially becoming who his father was in the first movie, there’s an undercurrent critique of stigmatizing sentiment, stereotyping aesthetics, and toxic masculinity throughout the movie. From Emmett’s desire and character arc to toughen up as is expected of him, to the emphasis those around him put on serious, gritty, and “mature” worldviews, to Lucy’s presumption that the garish, decorative, overtly friendly, and (for lack of a better word) girlish appearance of the “Sistar System” is secretly hostile and inherently worse than their own world, it’s some important commentary and relevant subject matter to tackle which the film does so tremendously.
The Lego Movie 2 sees the return of Chris Pratt to the role that essentially started his escalation as a movie star.
Emmett’s still a perfectly naïve and likable protagonist, a role he somewhat shares in this movie with Elizabeth Banks’ Lucy (also going by “Wyldstyle”). She has her own storyline and arc that rivals Emmetts’, and is possibly more rewarding. Will Arnett is once more on top form in his satirical take on Batman that is surprisingly still funny.
Rounding out the master builders are Nick Offerman as Metalbeard, Charlie Day as Spaceman Benny, and Alison Brie as Unikitty. In addition to Tiffany Haddish, the new cast includes a welcome Stephanie Beatriz as a mini-doll General, Mighty Boosh cohorts Noel Fielding and Richard Ayoade, and Ben Schwartz as a banana.
And like in the other Lego movies, there are a number of cameos and small appearances from a wide array of pop culture notables who have been turned into Lego minifigures.
There’s more music than in The Lego Movie, with new song sequences that really compliment the films’ humour, including “Not Evil”, “Gotham City Guys”, the infectious “Catchy Song”, a Lonely Island credits theme, and even a maudlin rewrite of “Everything is Awesome” which remains the principal musical staple. The humour is likewise consistently strong, as has come to be expected from Lord and Miller –you can maybe count on one hand the gags, visual or spoken, that don’t work.
The twist of the original film out of the way, The Lego Movie 2 has found itself in the unique position of getting to comment, satirize, and explore important social and societal values as kids see them. And as such it can get away with being opaque to ensure its’ themes are taken the right way. But that’s to say nothing for its sheer entertainment value. The metaphorical nature of its universe has opened up the Lego movie franchise to being a successor of sorts to Toy Story, particularly in its depiction of the relationship between the constructed world and the kids. In that spirit I hope eventually we see the Third Part.