2014’s The LEGO Movie was a bit of a surprise. What was initially perceived as a lazy cash grab based on yet another toy-to-film adaptation ended up being a delightfully wacky take on just about anything you could think of. It featured an army of talented voice actors and two writer/directors (Phil Lord and Christopher Mill) who knew just what beats to hit and when to hit them, resulting in a massively successful film that was enjoyed by both children and adults. Warner Bros capitalized on this with two subsequent features that were also pretty damn good — The LEGO Batman Movie and the The LEGO Ninjago Movie, but a sequel to the first entry was inevitable.
And so here we are, with The LEGO Movie 2: The Second Part. As you’ve likely seen from the ubiquitous trailers, this time around, naïve and happy-go-lucky Emmet (Chris Pratt) and his best badass friend Lucy (Elizabeth Banks) are stuck living in a Mad Max-esque apocalyptic wasteland because every time they try to build something nice or cute, adorable Duplex aliens attack and raze the city. So instead, everything is grim and dark, all coming to a head when the villainess General Mayhem (Stephanie Beatriz) kidnaps all of the city’s bravest heroes — including Lucy, the ever-hilarious Will Arnett as Batman, Charlie Day’s Benny the Spaceman, Allison Brie’s Princess Unikitty, and Nick Offerman’s Metalbeard the body-less pirate — to bring to the alien Queen Watevra Wa-Nabi, a shapeshifting Duplo creature with questionable intentions.
Emmet, of course, embarks on a not-always-very-heroic journey to save his friends and the day, and along the way both he and his friends encounter strange creations, wild adventures, Very Important Lessons, and musical numbers. And it’s fun. Emmet is still a sweet, adorably goofy hero who never quite has what it takes, and Banks is brilliant as Lucy, the real brains and brawn of the operation who grows increasingly frustrated with her friend’s relentless optimism. Arnett continues to be utter perfection as the gravel-voiced, supercool yet inwardly conflicted Batman, and Tiffany Haddish is fantastic as the weird, colorful alien queen. The set pieces (ha) are wild, constantly morphing from one brightly lit palette to another, and with its characters constantly building new and crazier additions as they progress on their respective quests.
It never quite reaches the heights of the first film, and that’s in part due to Miller and Lord departing the director’s chairs (but still penning the screenplay) and being replaced by Mike Mitchell. Mitchell is a mixed bag of a director, responsible for trash like Deuce Bigalow: Male Gigolo but also surprisingly watchable films like Trolls and Sky High. That inconsistency shows here in a film that is often extremely funny and exciting but often feels like too much. Too many jokes, too many tries to keep the adults entertained, coming so fast that it sometimes feels forced and even a little overwhelming. Grownups get that this is mostly for kids with a few bones for them tossed in, and the first film worked by carefully balancing those things and by making the kids parts strong enough that they wouldn’t bore parents. This time, it sometimes — only sometimes, though — tries too hard.
But that’s OK. It’s still mostly a sweet, funny, any project that kept us entertained. It drags a bit in the middle, as Emmet finds a fellow adventurer in Rex Dangervest, a character whose satirical background pushed both my patience and my son’s attention span. But it ultimately succeeds far more often than it fails. The musical numbers are clever and enjoyable, particularly the Lonely Island number that plays with the credits. The LEGO Movie 2: The Second Part is a solid addition to the Lego Cinematic Universe, a breezy, witty piece that’s perhaps a little fluffier than its predecessor, but worth a look nonetheless.
Header Image Source: Warner Brothers