The Lego Movie 2: The Second Part

(Mitchell, 2019)

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When I walked into The Lego Movie 2, my mind was working overtime. I was frantically trying to jettison my preconceived notions. I was calmly (but not calmly) telling myself to have fun, to enjoy myself. But no matter how hard I tried, I couldn’t shake one certain feeling: the feeling of awesomeness. 2014’s The Lego Movie was awesome, and it coaxed me into believing (perhaps naively) that everything associated with The Lego Movie would be awesome. Chris Pratt is awesome! Phil Lord and Christopher Miller are awesome! The Lego Movie 2: The Second Part will be awesome! But despite glittering animation and the return of some of our favorite Lego characters, The Lego Movie 2 is… average. Each of its individual parts seem to indicate a recipe for success: script from Phil Lord and Christopher Miller, new additions to the cast like Tiffany Haddish and Stephanie Beatriz, the promise of more groundbreaking Lego animation. But even though all the right ingredients were there, The Lego Movie 2 came out of metaphorical oven way too early. It is half-baked, meandering, undeveloped, and all-around lackluster. Though there are a few shining moments here and there, there simply aren’t enough of them to warrant this sequel.

The Lego Movie 2 picks up just where the last one left off— with the aliens from Planet Duplo arriving in Bricksburg, proclaiming to all that they have been sent to destroy. Flash forward five years, and we’re treated to the beautifully animated remains of Bricksburg, now called Apocalypseburg. This Mad Max-inspired wasteland (complete with a sunken Lady Liberty, Planet of the Apes-style) is a hilariously great foil for Emmet (Chris Pratt), our happy-go-lucky protagonist from the first film. Even in this desolate and dangerous society, Emmet is as plucky as ever. But when invaders from space kidnap all of his friends, Emmet decides he needs to abandon his nice-guy ways and toughen up for good.

What ensues is an unfortunate narrative mess with a surprisingly relevant message about how to live in tough times. The Lego Movie 2 has a lot of good teaching moments for young audiences about positivity, toxic masculinity, and growing up. In fact, it seems both Lego Movies have a strong message at their cores that challenge the individual to rebel against societal norms. It’s just a shame that one movie is awesome, and the other is just okay.

With an apparent goal to more target young viewers, The Lego Movie 2 sheds the “something for all-ages” descriptor that its predecessor so easily garnered. While audiences of any age can (and should) relate to the greater themes of the film, the narrative relies too much on childish humor, clichéd arcs, and lazy reveals for it to truly appeal to audiences of all ages. For some, that will be just fine. There are (believe it or not) people who see The Lego Movie franchise exclusively as “kids movies,” but the first film in the series should not be associated with that sub-genre of animated films. The Lego Movie can stand proudly alongside recent animated classics like Moana or Coco, while its sequel fits better next to Trolls or Secret Life of Pets. The Lego Movie 2 has a slew of uninspired musical numbers, one-dimensional characters, cheesy references, and a dearth of jaw-dropping animation sequences. Seriously, there isn’t a single sequence in The Lego Movie 2 that holds a candle to any of the chase or battle scenes in the original. Despite its best efforts, The Lego Movie 2 is nowhere near as intellectual, heartwarming, or hilarious as the first film was… but young kids will probably love it just the same. ★★★

David Merkle