“The Lego Movie 2” builds a sequel with the same genuine heart and humor as its predecessor.
Yes, the first “Lego Movie” was excellent. Yes, it exceeded all expectations for what had seemed to clearly be a corporate cash grab meant to boost toy sales. Yes, it was a touching story about embracing childhood and fun that brought a tear to the eyes of anyone with a soul. So, the question is, did “The Lego Movie 2” deliver the same? Is it possible to have a worthy successor to what was legitimately one of the best children’s movies of the last decade? In short, yes, Lego did it again, everyone, and you can go see for yourself if you want, because that’s heartily recommended. But first, you can read on. That’s appreciated as well.
We rejoin our heroes in a very different situation than we found them in the last film. After the reunion between father and son, the boy’s little sister makes good on the newfound permission to play with the expansive Lego set. And so times change for our tiny heroes. Oh, how they change. Hellish invasions from above — in the form of cutesy toys — convert the formerly sleek Lego cityscape into a wasteland, fittingly named “Apocalypseburg,” and we learn that Emmet (Chris Pratt) and friends have spent the past five years dodging bright pink “alien” invasions. The characters have adjusted to their new surroundings, adopting attire and a new palate that would make the aesthetic of “Mad Max” proud. The outstanding exception is Emmet, who is struggling to shake his signature feel-good attitude. This all changes, however, when Emmet’s buddies are whisked away for peace talks with the alien Queen Watevra Wa’Nabi (Tiffany Haddish), forcing our intrepid protagonist to toughen up at last, travel to the far reaches of space, and team up with a Han Solo-esque pilot (Chris Pratt) to save his friends and stop the prophesized apocalypse, known as “Our-Mom-ageddon.”
With the fourth wall shattered by the previous film, “The Lego Movie 2” now has more space to play with the area between the imaginative universe and the realm of parents and children, allowing the movie to play with some more “Toy Story”-like qualities as the toys navigate their progression through an outside world. Simultaneously, we can see how the “high stakes” dynamics of the conflicts between figurines translate into reality, namely brother and sister bickering over stolen toys and the complications of their own relationship. Also, it’s a Lego movie, so in the style of the first, there’s a fun plot twist.
The animation is impressive as well. Not only because the CGI Legos look completely real — every scratch and mark of friction visible, as well as one character sporting “scars” in the form of typical toy wear-and-tear — but because of the creativity and impressive changeability they manage to bring to the bricks. Dust clouds and water flows despite being made of tiny squares, and one character can constantly change, moving in and out of many different forms with surprising fluidity.
Of course, as sequels go, it isn’t quite the same film as the original. “The Lego Movie 2” has a promotional number “Catchy Song” that doesn’t hold a candle to the furiously unshakeable “Everything is Awesome,” and, tragically, this film doesn’t have a single on-screen Will Ferrell cameo. But, Ferrell aside, the spirit is still there, and it certainly does an admirable job of employing the same humor, heart, and message of forgiveness and love that the original did, making “The Lego Movie 2” a worthy successor to the Lego Movie title.
A touching story about the complicated dynamics of family and the simple power of choosing joy even in the face of darkness, “The Lego Movie 2” lives up to its predecessor. Funny, fast-paced, and well-conceived, it positions itself as one of this year’s “must-see” childhood classics.
Director: Mike Mitchell
Starring: Chris Pratt, Elizabeth Banks, Will Arnett, Tiffany Haddish, Stephanie Beatriz
Release Date: Feb 8, 2019