It’s only been slightly more than four years since The LEGO Movie hit theaters, made approximately a bajillion dollars (OK, about half of that: $469 million worldwide), and spawned a franchise that has given us a LEGO Batman movie and a LEGO Ninjago movie. But time moves strangely now, and when The LEGO Movie 2: The Second Act hit theaters last week, it felt simultaneously too late and just on the heels of another LEGO property. (Maybe that explains the underperformance at the box office?)
TK nails it in his review with this line: “Too many jokes, too many tries to keep the adults entertained, coming so fast that it sometimes feels forced and even a little overwhelming.” That’s not to say The LEGO Movie 2 is bad—TK gave it a positive review, and I agree overall—but that this movie has flaws that the first film didn’t. There are highs here, but lows, too, and I’m not sure if the initial LEGO Movie had any of those.
But, like Lucy (Elizabeth Banks) says in The Second Act, “a lifetime has passed since then.” So let’s do this thing. Let’s overly analyze a family film built primarily to sell little plastic blocks that plague anyone who steps on them! LET’S DO IT!
SPOILERS SPOILERS SPOILERS for The LEGO Movie 2: The Second Act FOLLOW
+ Tiffany Haddish is a delightful addition to this cast as Queen Watevra Wa-Nabi, and her songs were wonderful. “Not Evil” had a very Ursula-from-The Little Mermaid vibe, which I enjoyed quite a bit (“I totally won’t imprison your family!” made me laugh out loud), and her reverse-psychology ditty “Gotham City Guys,” to convince Batman to marry her, also successfully used the movie’s meta methods to great effect.
How can you not be into these lyrics? Come on!
Hangin’ around with clowns, I don’t need that in my life
I ain’t Selina Kyle, I ain’t no Vicky Vale
I was never into you even when you were Christian Bale
+ General Sweet Mayhem is supposed to look like the Star Wars character Captain Phasma, right? And she had a lot more to do than Gwendoline Christie’s Phasma, so that was good for Stephanie Beatriz, too. (Plus, her observation to Lucy that “The hapless male was the leader … but you did all the work?” seems about right.)
+ Please give Ben Schwartz an award for perfectly voicing a humanoid banana who constantly slips on its own peel. The role he was born to play!
+ I’ve missed Channing Tatum. His glitter-covered version of Superman at least seems to be living his best life in the Systar System, though.
+ Maya Rudolph is a joy, and her exasperated looks at her kids while they bickered over the LEGOs and her eyerolls at Will Ferrell’s absent-dad routine were gold, too. But can we talk about how that house was gigantic and their son seemed to have EVERY SINGLE LEGO COLLECTION EVER MADE? I don’t even want to think about the family’s toy budget. I think Petr would pass out.
+ There’s a recurring gag with Bruce Willis wandering through pipes. That joke is just for parents, right? Kids aren’t out here getting Die Hard references, are they?
+ At a tragic moment in the film, Charlie Day’s spaceman Benny comments that he finally understands Radiohead, to which Will Arnett’s Batman replies, “Bro, you should check out Elliott Smith,” and again, WHO IS THIS REFERENCE FOR? Elliott Smith is one of my favorite singer-songwriters, but his life was depressing as fuck. He made it big by having some of his music pulled for Gus Van Sant’s Good Will Hunting, and he immediately turned his back on mainstream fame after that. He was addicted to drugs, did a shitton of heroin, was desperately depressed and consumed by self-loathing, and eventually killed himself by stabbing himself in the heart in front of his girlfriend. Elliott Smith was a phenomenal musician who wrote lyrics like “I can’t prepare for death any more than I already have,” and “Give me one good reason not to do it,” and while I understand that Batman’s moroseness is played for laughs in The LEGO Movie franchise, this mention felt distasteful. It’s a name-drop that means nothing to young viewers and that diminishes Smith’s life and pain for the purpose of … what, exactly?
+ Did you know there are TWO Chris Pratts in this movie?
TWO. CHRIS PRATTS.
TWO. OF THE WORST CHRIS.
Here is some spoiler stuff: Pratt’s Emmet is separated from Lucy and decides to save her, and teams up with a new character, the roguish Rex Dangervest, along the way. Rex’s spaceship is manned by a team of velociraptors who drink coffee, complain about Mondays, and generally act like Garfield, and Emmet bonds with them immediately. And he looks up to the stubbled, swingy-haired Rex, who seems so brave and wise and masculine, unlike Emmet, who Mayhem had previously brushed off as a leader.
BUT THEN Lucy realizes that Rex is evil, and it’s revealed that Rex is Emmet from the future, somehow, and he wants to separate Emmet from Lucy and prove that as a strong male he doesn’t need help from anyone else, and he certainly doesn’t need friends. The subplot doesn’t really follow the established rules of time travel! But ultimately, Rex is defeated, and he vanishes Back to the Future style, and then Emmet starts talking about how much he loves his church and how welcoming they’ve been to him as a divorced man and how much they can’t hate LGBT people because that would be mean.
Oh, my bad. Did I just conflate Emmet and real-life Chris Pratt? Worst Chris? Sorry, y’all. Have some other Best Chrises to cheer you up. They are literally all better than him.
What is really important to consider, after watching The LEGO Movie 2, is this: Where is my movie with two Chris Pines? Why do you deny us, universe!
Image sources (in order of posting): Warner Bros., Warner Bros., Warner Bros., Warner Bros., Warner Bros.