Lego Movie 2, TheReviewed By Peter Sobczynski
Posted 02/07/19 16:14:55
(Worth A Look)
I must confess that when “The Lego Movie” came out in 2014, I just did not quite get it. Oh, I thought it was bright, funny and clever enough to give it a good review and all—I hadn’t taken complete leave of my senses—but it wasn’t until I happened to revisit it a couple of weeks later that I belatedly began to realize just how inventive it really was, both formally and narratively, and how smart and incisive it was in how it explored its real subject, the myriad ways in which imagination and creativity manifest themselves in different people using the ever-popular Lego toys as a point of departure for those who slavishly follow the instructions to build their towering creations and those who prefer to create them on their own. The good news with “The Lego Movie 2: The Second Part” is that it didn’t take me nearly as long to recognize how good it is this time around. Obviously, the film no longer has the element of jaw-dropping surprise going for it—the realization that this was a film that was far more than just an extended toy commercial—but what it understandably lacks in that regards, it more than makes up for that loss with large doses of wit, intelligence and more emotional depth than one might rightly expect from a project in which all of the characters are made of plastic bricks.You will recall that at the end of the original film, we discovered that all of the adventures that we had witnessed the characters—including happy-go-lucky semi-hero Emmet (Chris Pratt), bad-ass warrior Lucy (Elizabeth Banks) and Batman (Will Arnett) were actually the result of developments in our world between a father (Will Ferrell) who was obsessed with building elaborate structures according to the directions and then super-gluing them into permanence, and a son, Finn (Jadon Sand) who preferred to create things entirely on his own. In the end, Finn won this particular meeting of the minds but as Dad ceded controls of the elaborate universe of Bricksburg to him, he reminded him that this meant that he would have to share with his little sister, Bianca (Brooklyn Prince). This development inevitably led to chaos as the world was suddenly invaded by ultra-cutesy Duplo block that rained cheery-faced chaos on everything.
As “The Lego Movie 2” opens, five years have passed and Bricksburg is now a “Fury Road”-style dystopia in which the now-grizzled populace is constantly on guard for attacks by the cuddly infiltrators. The only thing that hasn’t changed, perhaps inevitably, is Emmet, who is still his cheerful, coffee-driven self who remains happily oblivious to the chaos around him and who dreams of a shared future with Lucy, who despairs that he will never grow up and toughen up in the ways necessary to survive their new circumstances. This becomes especially when prevalent when General Mayhem (Stephanie Beatriz) arrives to spirit away Lucy, Batman, Metal Beard (Nick Offerman), Unikitty (Alison Brie) and Benny (Charlie Day) to the Sister System, a universe ruled by Queen Waterva Wa’Nabi (Tiffany Haddish), a leader who can shift into any shape that she wants, has mysterious plans that involve her marrying Batman and who repeatedly insists at great, if not especially convincing length, that her intentions are not at all evil. Desperate to rescue his friends and prove that he can be as tough as Lucy wants him to be, Emmet builds a spaceship and flies off in pursuit and is eventually joined on his quest by Rex Dangervest (also voiced by Pratt), who is as bad-ass as can be.
As I indicated earlier, the one hurdle that a sequel to “The Lego Movie” cannot avoid is that it no longer has the element of surprise going for it in the way that the original did—while most viewers were genuinely blindsided by the previous film’s meta-twist, they will almost certainly begin twigging as to what is going on here fairly early in the proceedings. As a result, “The Lego Movie 2” may seem less overwhelingly audacious but it still manages to prove itself to be pretty clever throughout. Phil Lord and Christopher Miller, who wrote and directed the first film, have returned to pen the screenplay and they have supplied the usual barrage of sight gags, goofball jokes and inside references that may not mean much to the little kids but which should have their parents chuckling. At the same time, there is a further exploration of the underlining theme about the importance of creativity and imagination that suffused the first one that is further augmented by explorations of sibling relations and gender coding, especially in regards to playthings, that are more thoughtful than one might expect from a animated blockbuster, at least of the non-Pixar variety. Younger viewers will come to the film eager to see their favorite characters get involved with their various goofy adventures, of course, but the ostensibly more serious-minded subtext may indeed resonate just as strongly with them and their parents.
This is not to suggest that “The Lego Movie 2” is some kind of dark and overtly psychological work because it is just as bright, cheery and hilarious as the original. This is one of those movies that is such a hurricane of cheerful silliness that even on the rare occasions when a joke turns out to be a clunker, there are usually at least three or four more right there to cover for it. While I won’t mention any of the details of the specific jokes, the film earns laughs from everything from a particularly inspired big star cameo to the way that the Rex Dangervest character serves as a witty parody of all the more conventionally heroic roles that Chris Pratt has found himself playing in recent years (even including a reference to losing the baby fat). From a musical standpoint, the film manages to reach the high-water mark set by “Everything is Awesome” with a collection of hilarious and insanely catchy tunes ranging from one that manages to work in references to every single actor who has ever played Batman to an end-credit collaboration between Beck and the Lonely Island that should go down as the first great pop music masterpiece of 2019. As before, the look of the film is also a delight as it offers up one astonishing flight of visual fancy after another while still managing to at least approximately an agreeably homegrown feel that stresses the toy-like nature of its world and its denizens instead of smoothing everything over into a more conventional and ultimately less interesting look.Aside from perhaps being a little too long for its own good—though never quite to the point of wearing out its welcome—“The Lego Movie 2” is a more-than-worthwhile followup to a great piece of popular entertainment, one that builds on the accomplishments of its predecessor instead of merely repeating its best bits. Instead, it deftly mixes big laughs with solid emotional underpinnings in ways that will enchant and amuse viewers of all ages. Sure, it may ultimately be an extended commercial for a well-known brand that will no doubt have kids clamoring for toys afterwards but it is done so well that even the most cynical of viewers may find themselves succumbing to its charms. And yes, if you go, you absolutely must stay through the end credits.
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