“I was afraid he might just be a projection of what my ego needed!”
Phil Lord and Christopher Miller have had quite a great run in films over the past decade. The duo has written and/or directed movies like Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs, 21 and 22 Jump Street, and most recently the brilliant Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse. The Lego Movie (2014) was nearly flawless, with striking animation unlike anything before it, written in a way that can elicit laughs from all ages, and backed with heartwarming themes about self-confidence and positive relationships. Five years later, The Lego Movie 2: The Second Part managed to maintain almost everything that made the first one great. Sadly, not all of the pieces fit quite as well as in the original, but it was more than worth seeing on a big screen in 3D.
In The Second Part, Lord and Miller showed off their wonderful ability to hit the audience with a variety of gags, not over-relying on one-liners or visual gags, and mostly staying away from any potty humor. The dialogue was frenetic, yet no line felt like a throwaway. I can imagine it’d be confusing for someone who does not keep up with pop culture. One second Green Lantern was being diminished by the rest of the Justice League and the next a character yelled out “Hufflepuff!” Cameos were also weaved into the story again this time around, with my personal favorite being Bruce Willis insisting that he didn’t live in an air duct.
Continuing a story is never an easy feat, but The Second Part managed to successfully add some new ideas while staying true to the first film. I am the oldest of 3 siblings, and could definitely relate to the conflict over toys; I can only imagine what some of my toys would have been thinking had they been “real” back then. Lord and Miller twisted perspectives in a clever way as well. Both Lego Movies were clearly focused on how Finn and Emmet were seeing the world. Had this movie been from Bianca’s perspective, Queen Watevra Wa-Nabi wouldn’t have seemed so evil, and the audience would have identified Rex as the real bad guy quicker. Or they would have been questioning how necessary his character was at all.
As Rex himself joked, time travel is a messy plot device to include in a movie. In The Second Part, it appeared to break many rules established in the first film, and just left me distracted. Without Rex showing up, Emmet was already convinced of the idea that he was too kind and needed to change, and it would have saved plenty of exposition time by just making his desire to be strong an internal process (which was another joke, as though Lord and Miller anticipated the questions around Rex’s necessity). Nevertheless, I have a soft spot for velociraptors and will happily trade the inessential Rex plotline for seeing raptors with hilarious subtitled dialogue around a water cooler.
The weakest part of the film was the original music. “Everything is Awesome” was a brilliantly catchy song that also was juxtaposed against the dictatorial control of Lord Businessman/Finn’s dad (Will Ferrell). There are even more songs in this sequel, and most of them are forgettable explanations of dialogue. “Catchy Song” attempts to recapture what “Everything is Awesome” did, but there is nothing clever about it, and it manages to sound so catchy that it becomes forgettable as well. I’m writing this only a few hours after watching the movie and honestly can’t remember it, unlike “Everything is Awesome” which I randomly found myself humming for years. The film was aware of its ubiquity as well, with the inclusion of both a great new version by the wonderful Garfunkel & Oates and Eban Schletter, along with a new “Everything’s Not Awesome” sung at the climax of the movie. My favorite new song was “Super Cool,” a credits song featuring The Lonely Island rapping about how cool credits are.
My critiques aside, kids, along with most of the adult fans of the franchise, will probably find very little fault with The Lego Movie 2. The animation is flawless, and the voice acting cast had more big names than any live film would be able to afford. There are plenty of laughs and the message is one that anyone can relate to. I would definitely recommend seeing it in 3D to get the full depth of effects. And maybe bring some earplugs for the “Catchy Song.”