The Lego Movie 2: The Second Part
Opening Friday, Feb. 8
Often, when the sequel to a nearly universally loved movie is twice delayed, it’s a clear warning sign that expectations will not be met. Fortunately for fans of the franchise, The Lego Movie 2: The Second Part more than satisfies, falling short of its 2014 predecessor in just one area.
Riffing off the original’s “Everything Is Awesome” theme, Lego Movie 2 asks what happens when everything isn’t awesome. It tackles this question—plus childhood concerns about changing as you grow up—with a panoply of music and pop culture references, some aimed at kids and others at adults, copying the first film’s framework of an animated plastic tale garnished by live-action plot.
Those live-action segments are a step down from the original, perhaps because they’re more abundant. Lego Movie 2 follows through on the first film’s ending, in which a father (Will Ferrell) told his son, Finn (Jadon Sand), that his younger sister, Bianca, would have to be allowed to play with the Legos, too. This leads to sibling conflict that’s exacerbated when Finn becomes a cool-aspirant teen and turns happy Bricksburg into a Mad Max-inspired wasteland after yet another sisterly invasion. Maya Rudolph, as the mom of the bickering siblings, manages to land a couple of moments without ever breaking a sweat, and an offscreen Ferrell query, toward the end of the saga, elicited gleeful howls from audience members familiar with part one. Otherwise, the live scenes merely serve as a narrative foundation, and do little else.
It’s the plastic characters who provide the heart and soul of Lego Movie 2, and their story surpasses the original, making up for any loss of novelty by layering on humor and making the plot a trifle twistier. There are fewer Lego deep-cut references to things like Bionicles, and more geektastic quips and cameos (Ruth Bader Ginsburg! Hot Tub Time Machine!), along with a surfeit of puns—hero Emmet, voiced by Chris Pratt, must rescue audience favorites Wyldstyle (Elizabeth Banks), Batman (Will Arnett), Unikitty (Alison Brie), Metalbeard (Nick Offerman), and Benny (Charlie Day) from “the Systar System,” ruled by Queen Watevra Wa’Nabi (Tiffany Haddish). The jokes tumble past in an avalanche; in the theater, they prompted rolling waves of laughter as different quips landed with different age groups.
More musical than the first film, with assorted characters breaking into song during key moments, Lego Movie 2 goes for broke in the ear-worm category with not only a remix of “Everything Is Awesome” but also the addition of “Catchy Song,” a song which, as promised by its title, brazenly vows to get stuck in your head. Do stick around during the end credits for the Beck and Lonely Island collaboration in praise of, well, end credits.