Second part… same as the first! A little bit louder and a whole lot, um… same as the first!
It’s been five years since the defeat of Lord Business (Will Farrell), but a new threat appears in the form of attacking Duplo building blocks! Five years later, Wyldstyle, aka Lucy (Elizabeth Banks), still tries to convince Emmet (Chris Pratt) to embrace the brood-worthy dystopian wasteland their world has become… and is failing miserably. When a new threat causes the survivors to fall back to the walled lair of Batman (Will Arnett), General Mayhem (Stephanie Beatriz) invades and kidnaps all of Emmet’s closest friends, launching him on a new adventure to defeat Queen Watevra Wa’Nabi (Tiffany Haddish) and encounter a whole new slew of obvious and obscure pop-culture references.
Again featuring an all-star cast promoting the classic toy building system referenced in the title, original writers Phil Lord and Christopher Miller turned over directorial duties for this sequel to animation director and occasional voice actor Mike Mitchell. Picking up moments from where the first film left off, the same revelations are left in place for the existing characters — yes, all of them. With more building sets, more in-jokes, and literally going further than the original, is it all enough to warrant a sequel?
The genie is out of the bottle over the real-world revelations from The Lego Movie. This production tries to lean on that premise even harder, both hiding it and flaunting it at the same time. Instead of the wholesome-heartfelt family thing waiting till the end, those parts seem more forced from the first act and feel less impactful; it’s exactly what you see in the trailers. Sure, we all want to get back to the Lego Land of Imagination to see something cool and new, but a reliance on either repeating the same bits or failing to impress beyond them doesn’t set the sequel significantly apart.
This wasn’t for a lack of trying. There’s a good moral message here — on par with the original — but it feels skewed toward actual kids rather than “the kid in everyone.” This reduces much of the film to an Easter egg hunt for parents and adults — a worthy pursuit since plenty of wink-wink nudge-nudge bits are based on references only grown-ups are going to get. While again visually advanced (and ever-amusing to see Lego people work within their obvious limitations), the lesson being taught both inside and outside of the film is that everything doesn’t have to always be awesome… and it doesn’t get more meta than that.
Tiffany Haddish’s Queen Watevra Wa’Nabi is definitely a stand-out as the would-be antagonist, especially with her curious morphing ability and questionable-yet-desirable motives; her songs are a highlight. Fans of the first one won’t be disappointed, but if you were hoping for bigger and newer, it never rises above what you’ve seen before… nor does it exactly sink below it. The goal of any sequel is to provide enough of the same but more of what you want, but similar to last year’s The Incredibles 2, you can’t shake the feeling you seen too much of the exact same thing already… and not just because it cribs from everything.
The Lego Movie 2: The Second Part is rated PG for some rude humor… and YOU started it!
Three skull recommendation out of four