1 Hr., 47 Mins.
The Lego Movie 2: The Second Part February 14, 2019
ive years sit between 2014’s The Lego Movie and its first direct follow-up, the almost-as-punchy The Lego Movie 2: The Second Part. For me, the last half-decade has gone by so freakishly quickly that I’d almost hadn’t noticed it passing. For the characters in this sequel though, it’s the opposite: the last five years have been sluggish and miserable.
Since the last time we hung out with accidental hero Emmet (voiced by
Chris Pratt) and his posse, which includes Master Builder Lucy (Elizabeth Banks), anthropomorphic warrior cat Princess Unikitty (Alison Brie), an ultra-serious Batman (Will Arnett), among others, the Lego world has become a post-apocalyptic wasteland. For years, invaders from another planet called Duplo have been wreaking havoc for no discernible reason. To rebuild any tower or monument has become an almost-Sisyphean task. Bricksburg, the main setting of the first movie, is no longer called Bricksburg: the locals, more pessimistic than ever, now refer to it as Apocalypseburg.
Remaining intact, however, is the first film’s fast-paced, reference-heavy comedic style, which is as effective as ever. (This installment, like its predecessor, was written by Phil Lord and Christopher Miller.) I laughed loudly and frequently, most often as a result of the extended gag that myriad Duplo bad guys sound like they’re voiced by runny-nosed little kids. But, then again, this sort of amusing voice-acting has always been a draw for the franchise. The movie’s excitable sense of humor has consistently been complemented by a cast that’s always game; which, this time around, includes terrific newcomers like the reliably energetic Tiffany Haddish and typically deadpan Stephanie Beatriz.
Still, the sequel, which is mostly concerned with our heroes trying to defeat the Duplo, is noticeably busier than its predecessor. Not only are there two villains, there’s also more of a devotion to side-plots, especially the live-action one. The interference of the “real” isn’t new for the series. In The Lego Movie, we find out during the last act that everything we’d been seeing in the animated world is actually being manipulated in real life by a little boy named Finn toying with his obsessive father’s (Will Ferrell) massive Lego collection. In this follow-up, Finn (Jadon Sand), now a tween, has taken full control of the narrative, while his little sister (Brooklynn Prince) — who controls the Duplo — is interfering with his hobby. Another animated detour involves a rugged action-hero type named Rex (also voiced by Pratt) mentoring Emmet, which seems to serve as a larger allegory for the way Pratt’s celebrity has evolved from 2014 to now.
Whereas the real-world story was mostly a garnish in the original, the further investment in that plot causes some dragging with this sequel. Although its ties to the Lego-world narrative are clever and provide a strong basis for the movie’s many absurdities, a good part of the middle act feels slightly compromised by the dramatic conflict that inevitably arises during it. The previously rapid narrative momentum drastically slows (though admittedly not unnecessarily), which makes it surprising that the film is only six minutes longer than the original.
This relatively small stretch of fatigue is only a minor nuisance, though. The Lego Movie franchise, with its smart and invitingly frenzied brand of comedy, is one I hope becomes a cultural staple, like Muppet movies. Because even if this sequel cannot entirely recreate its predecessor’s freshness, it’s dependably far more inspired than a great many comedies of recent memory. B
This review also appeared in The Daily.