The LEGO Movie 2: The Second Part, directed by Mike Mitchell, is a prime example of a film that was technically made for children but is equally if not more, appreciated by the adults accompanying them. While kids will walk away with the message that it’s okay to be sad sometimes but growing up doesn’t mean giving in to pessimism, adults will see it as a commentary on how bleak it can feel to live in the current political climate. Despite a message that could have gotten heavy, The Second Part still manages to maintain all of the charm and personality of the other LEGO films and carries its in-your-face self-aware humor with incredible vivacity. It doesn’t have the same punch or originality as its predecessor, but nevertheless marks another successful entry in the LEGO cinematic universe.
The movie picks up right where the first ended, with Finn (Jaden Sand) playing LEGOs in the basement with his dad (Will Ferrell), who suggests that it might be time for Finn’s sister to join them. Cut to the LEGO world, where Emmet (Chris Pratt), Wyldstyle / Lucy (Elizabeth Banks), and friends are met with mysterious aliens resembling LEGO Duplo blocks. Emmet, ever the optimist, attempts to strike peace to no avail, and they are forced to go into hiding. We then jump five years into the future, where our LEGO heroes are now living in the colorless and pessimistic Apocalypsburg. Much to Emmet’s dismay, building anything that is colorful or shiny will attract the attention of the alien invaders and inevitably be destroyed. Nevertheless, Emmet maintains his trademark cheerful demeanor despite Lucy’s criticism that he hasn’t changed with the times.
Unfortunately, it is then that the Duplo aliens arrive, led by General Mayhem (Stephanie Beatriz), with plans to capture the leader of the LEGOs. Taking Lucy, Batman (Will Arnett), and the rest of Emmet’s friends with her, General Mayhem speeds off to the “Sistar System” for a mysterious wedding ceremony. Feeling responsible for Lucy’s kidnapping, Emmet quickly embarks on a rescue mission, where he meets Rex Dangervest (also voiced by Chris Pratt), who serves as the symbol of cynicism and a friendly dig at Pratt’s other famous blockbuster roles. Rex is everything Emmet wants to be — tough, masculine, and heroic. He promises to help Emmet save his friends and stop the wedding ceremony from occurring and setting off Armageddon — which is referred to as “Our-mom-ageddon” and warns of parental intervention in the real world siblings’ fight. Along the way, Emmet tries to emulate the same toughness that Rex has, though ultimately learns that it’s better to have love than cynicism.
Meanwhile, on the Sistar System, the crew meets Queen Watevra Wa’Nabi (Tiffany Haddish), who informs them how not evil she is via song and tries to convince them all to join the wedding festivities by promising gifts and rewards. Following this are some entertaining capers as Lucy tries to formulate a plan of escape and Emmet tries to rescue his friends. Plus, there are even more songs — including one that parodies the ear-worm that is “Everything is Awesome”, and is self-referentially titled “The Catchy Song”, with the recurring line “this song is gonna get stuck inside your head”. Queen Watevra Wa’Nabi serves as a great new addition to the line-up from the original, and she and Batman make a charming duo. This is especially highlighted in their song titled “Gotham City Guys” that’s peppered with real-world Batman references that will have the adults in the audience incredibly entertained.
As the movie continues, we see far more of the live action sequences than in the original. While the LEGO world serving as a metaphor is cute, it would have worked better had they trusted in their audience a little more. The self-aware humor mostly works in their favor, but there are certainly moments of heavy-handedness when trying to relate the LEGO world to its real-world counterparts. It doesn’t feel quite like the same breath of fresh air as the original, which definitely maintained a better balance of fun and meta without going overboard; regardless, its message of the importance of imagination and its takeaways regarding growing up is certainly very genuine and thoughtful.
The LEGO Movie 2 also suffers from being a not-quite-sequel — The LEGO Batman Movie came in between the first LEGO movie and the second, so it can’t help but feel a little more formulaic than it might have otherwise. That is not to say, however, that the formula is not enjoyable. It is obvious that they were attempting to take risks with their inclusion of more live action scenes and a much more obvious metaphor, even if it doesn’t always land. Nevertheless, it is still a success in its ultimate goal of reminding us that it’s okay that everything isn’t awesome right now, because if we stick together, it will be awesome again soon enough.