Sometimes, it’s hard not to feel that the Lego movies are their own worst enemy.
I mean, they’re just so cute and fun and likable and cheerfully dorky that it’s easy to overlook just clever they often are. Everything is Awesome may have been a cute song but it was also a pitch perfect parody of mindless conformity. And yes, The Lego Batman Movie got a lot of laughs out of Will Arnett’s guttural growl but it was also the best Batman film since The Dark Knight and it also had a lot to say about how lonely it can be when you’re an extremely paranoid super hero. As for The Lego Ninjago Movie …. well, give me a minute and I’ll think of something. Uhmmmm …. it had that cute kitty! Woo hoo!
Beyond all that, all of the Lego movies — from the best to the less-than-the-best — celebrate imagination. They celebrate being an individual and the joy of creating your own world as opposed to just conforming to someone else’s rules. As much as I loved Chris Pratt as Emmett and Elizabeth Banks as Wyldstyle, the heart of the first Lego Movie is to be found in the scene where Will Ferrell essentially realizes that he’s being a jerk when he won’t let his son build what he wants to build.
That said, the main appeal of the Lego movies is that they’re incredibly cute. Just take The Lego Movie 2: The Second Part for instance. Especially when compared to the first Lego Movie and The Lego Batman Movie, this sequel has its flaws. Admittedly, some of those flaws are unavoidable. Just the fact that we start the movie knowing that everyone is in Will Ferrell’s house means that the sequel can’t take us as much by surprise as the first Lego Movie did. Though the film’s original directors, Christopher Miller and Phil Lord, wrote the script and contribute some genuinely witty dialogue, the sequel’s pacing occasionally seems a little bit off. There’s a few slow spots, the majority of which are really only noticeable when you compare the sequel to the flawlessly paced first film. And yet, in the end, it’s such a cute movie that it’s easy to overlook those flaws.
The sequel begins immediately where the first ended, with Will Ferrell decreeing that both his son and his daughter are now allowed to play with his Lego collection. Jump forward five years and this has basically led to chaos. The Lego Universe is now a Mad Max-style wasteland. Not surprisingly, both Wylstyle and Batman have really gotten into their new dystopian lifestyle. Meanwhile, Emmett remains just as blindly cheerful and optimistic as ever. He still feels that everything is awesome.
Or, at least Emmet feels that way until all of his friends are kidnapped to the Systar System, where Queen Watevra Wa’Nabi (Tiffany Haddish) wants to marry Batman. Determined to rescue his friends, Emmett decides to travel to the Systar System himself. Helping him out is Rex Dangervest, who seems like the type of adventurer that Emmett has always dreamed of becoming. Chris Pratt voices both Rex and Emmett and the film has a lot of fun playing with Pratt’s post-Guardians of the Galaxy stardom. Rex is not just an intergalactic explorer. No, he’s also a cowboy, a dinosaur trainer, an archaeologist, a first baseman, and — we’re told — a script doctor. (Those, of course, are references to Pratt’s roles in The Magnificent Seven, Jurassic World, and Moneyball. Interestingly enough, his work in Passengers goes unmentioned.) Rex pressures Emmett to become more cynical and ruthless in his efforts to save his friends and destroy the Systar System and Chris Pratt does a great job voicing both roles. Indeed, if nothing else, this film will always stand as a tribute to the incredible and unending charm of Chris Pratt.
If Lego Movie 2 never reaches the glorious heights of the first film, that’s because the element of surprise has been lost. There’s no moment in the sequel that’s as memorable as when a live action Will Ferrell suddenly showed up in the first movie. (In the second movie, Ferrell appears in a flashback and has a brief voice cameo as President Business. Maya Rudolph does show up as his wife but the sequel’s live action scenes just don’t have the emotional impact of the first film’s.) But, with all that in mind, it’s still an undeniably cute and entertaining movie. All of your old favorites back — everyone from Channing Tatum and Jonah Hill as Superman and Green Lantern to Alison Brie as Unikitty to Charlie Day as the astronaut. (Sadly, Liam Neeson did not return as the Good Cop/Bad Cop and his absence is felt.) The film is full of clever parodies, my favorite being the references to Mad Max: Fury Road. There’s more than enough witty lines, visual gags, and sweet moments that Lego Movie 2 will hold your interest and bring a smile to your face.
At the box office, Lego Movie 2 fell victim to the same Lego fatigue that took down the Lego Ninjago film and it did not become quite the phenomenon that the first movie did. Regardless, it’s still a worthy sequel. I wouldn’t quite say it’s awesome but it’s definitely a lot of fun.