Same, but different, and maybe better – ‘The Lego Movie 2: The Second Part’ Review

The Lego Movie was without a doubt the best animated feature of 2014 while also up there with the rest contending for the best of the year. Phil Lord and Chris Miller’s sugary sweet script and directing style were a match made in heaven with the charming faux stop-motion CGI animation, and alongside its gorgeous eye-popping splendors, a heartfelt story made the film something truly special. Though a little familiar, The Lego Movie 2: The Second Part is an equally great sequel smartly building on the first film’s success.

The Second Part picks right up from the first film’s epilogue, where invaders from the planet Duplo are beamed down to Bricksburg after the events of Taco Tuesday are foiled. Five years pass, and the Lego haven has been reduced to a ravaged Mad Max-esque wasteland, though, true to his perky nature, Emmet remains unfazed by the disaster and is looking to settle down with his girlfriend, Lucy (Elizabeth Banks). But when General Sweet Mayhem (Stephanie Beatriz) of the Systar System captures Emmet’s friends to trigger a sinister plot, Ourmomageddon, Emmet teams up with the galaxy-defending archaeologist, cowboy, raptor trainer, and Master Destroyer, Rex Dangervest, to save his friends before it’s too late.

‘The Second Part’ is endless fun with its tremendously high, rapid-fire jokes per minute courtesy of Lord and Miller’s air-tight script. Every silly joke, gag, and reference lands effortlessly, and while you’re left in tears from the relentless machine gun rate at which they’re fired, it’s sometimes easy to forget how smart the writer pair’s humor really is. If there’s something that doesn’t quite work all the way, it’s the new couple of musical interludes that aren’t melodiously pleasant or catchy, just annoying, but even then, some clever lyrics (especially in the credits song, easily the best) save these scenes from being total throwaway pandering. And again, the dazzling CGI animation only adds to the film’s charm with its endearingly choppy stop-motion style.

the lego movie 2 the second partThe voice cast is equally great, with Pratt, Banks, Will Arnett, Alison Brie, and a handful of returning and new cameos delivering top-notch talent in brick form. Pratt pulls impressive double duty as Emmet and Rex Dangervest (a hodgepodge parody of Pratt’s recent action hero career, complete with a crew of bench-pressing, pool-playing, laser-toting raptors), being left to play off himself as two fundamentally different personalities and hitting both marks remarkably well. Tiffany Haddish also joins the cast, as the tireless busybody does, channeling all her explosive energy into her voice work for Queen Watevra Wa-Nabi, a shapeshifting pile of bricks and ruler of the Systar System to great effect.

And where The Lego Movie was all about a young boy, Finn (Jadon Sand), and his strained relationship with his father (Will Ferrell) after its animated layers were peeled back, The Second Part explores a similar dynamic between a now teenage Finn and his little sister, Bianca (Brooklyn Price). In many ways, the second film’s meta narrative is very much a retread of its predecessor as Finn and Bianca learn to understand each other by playing with their Legos and imaginations. But also like the first film, The Second Part is deceptively deep, and the brother-sister thematic centerpiece delivers new, actually more impactful lessons that touch on toxic, angsty teenage boyhood, “girl” toys, and sibling love.

The end does take a weird turn bafflingly involving time travel that could’ve been written better, almost derailing everything considering the film is ultimately grounded in real life and the children’s imaginations. In addition, it seems like The Second Part is building to an even more ambitious layer surrounding divorce/remarriage given wedding cake motifs and Finn’s tougher, isolated personality, but that’s ultimately not the case.

The revelations of the final act don’t pay off as well as the rest of the pretty much perfect film before it, but as a whole, The Lego Movie 2: The Second Part is still an excellent, surprisingly touching piece of greatness.

Grade: A-

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