lego movie 2

The LEGO Movie 2: The Second Part

MPAA Rating: PG | Rating: ★★★½
Release year: 2019
Genre: Adventure, Animated, Comedy, Family Director: Mike Mitchell

Five years after The LEGO Movie surprised us all with its awesomeness of meta-level cultural commentary and innovative aesthetic, The LEGO Movie 2: The Second Part feels like more of the same. I mean that as a compliment. Not a sophomore slump, but certainly nowhere near as transcendently awesome as the original, The LEGO Movie 2 is like the electro-remix of your favorite pop song, relying heavily on your love for the first film and expanding upon its already-awesome world-building (have I said “awesome” enough yet?) while also not exactly broaching into new territory (but possibly making you want to dance). It’s more of the same meta-humor; for me, that’s not a bad thing.

The narrative picks up right where the first film left off, with Duplo invaders from the Systar system turning Bricksburg into a Fury Road-like Apocalypseburg. Everything is *not* awesome, as time has hardened people, both inside the Lego realm and in the human family where all of this taking place. The only person who hasn’t change is Emmet (Chris Pratt), who is still as naively chipper as always, an optimist in the midst of armageddon–or in this case, Our-Mom-ageddon, a dire prophetic vision seen by Lucy/Wyldstyle (Elizabeth Banks). These dark visions are made manifest when General Sweet Mayhem (Stephanie Beatriz), a space ranger LEGO Friend, arrives to invite/abduct the bravest warriors of Apocalypseburg attend the wedding of Queen Watevra Wa’Nabi (Tiffany Haddish), the shape-shifting monarch of Systar. Lucy is taken, along with a cadre of familiar Master Builder characters like Batman (Will Arnett), Princess Unikitty (Alison Brie), and Benny the spaceship-obsessed astronaut (Charlie Day).

The narrative splits here between Emmett and Lucy–a quick meta-joke about male/female protagonists and their screen time elicits a few chuckles–as the former tries to save the latter, even as the latter can take care of herself perfectly fine. The incompetent Emmett is saved by Rex Dangervest, dude-bro toxic masculinity personified in a plastic figurine. As Lucy discovers the true nature of the Systar system, Emmett is confronted with the fact that he hasn’t changed or matured, and finds a sort of role model in Rex, raising questions as whether this is the kind of mentor Emmett (or anyone) really needs. This is all juxtaposed more explicitly with the “real” world of Finn (Jadon Sand) and Bianca (The Florida Project‘s Brooklynn Prince), the two siblings whose shared imaginations have created this world. While the big reveal near the end of The LEGO Movie was the identity of Lord Business (Will Ferrell), this sequel plays up the metaphorical interactions between fictional and real worlds from the get-go. While the middle act feels a tad long and the direction/timing seems to lack some of the energy of the first film, the conclusion is satisfying–one of the best parts might be the end credits.

Obnoxiously hopeful, The LEGO Movie 2 is a pop song medley celebrating a both-sides-of-the-aisle utopia. It recognizes that everything is not awesome in both the LEGO and human realms–there are real conflicts and pressures in this world, both as mundane as sibling rivalry and as dire as global politics. It looks at this not-awesomeness right in the face and responds with a witty quip, a catchy song, and a shared laugh. That may not seem too deep or profound, but the underlying reconciliation The LEGO Movie 2 celebrates is anything but shallow. Indeed, the ministry of reconciliation–the reconciliation between the Creator and created, as well as the created order with itself–is the very essence of good news and great joy. That’s a message worth getting stuck inside your head.

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