If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.
That seems to be a saying Phil Lord and Christopher Miller live by. Once the creative geniuses behind the Jump Street and Lego franchises strike gold, they know how to keep mining it, and the newly released “The Lego Movie 2: The Second Part” is a prime example.
Five years after the events of the first installment, “The Second Part” finds Emmet (Chris Pratt) and Lucy (Elizabeth Banks) in a post-apocalyptic wasteland. After an attack from an alien species of Duplo Legos, Bricksburg crumbled into nonexistence. The bricks have been abandoned and it’s every minifigure for himself. Gone are the days of everything being awesome.
When a mysterious alien spaceship carrying General Mayhem (Stephanie Beatriz) arrives and kidnaps Lucy, Batman (Will Arnett), Unikitty (Alison Brie), Metalbeard (Nick Offerman) and Benny (Charlie Day), it’s up to Emmet once again to save the day.
Mayhem carries her prisoners to the Sistar System, where Queen Watevra Wa’Nabi (Tiffany Haddish) plans to marry Batman and merge the two feuding kingdoms in order to prevent impending doom and Our-mom-ageddon. Along the way, Emmet teams up with Rex Dangervest, also voiced by Pratt, who is an amalgamation of Pratt’s previous roles and helps show him the ropes on his journey to be a hero.
While “The Second Part” may not have the same original creativity that was so stunning in its predecessor, it’s still able to channel it and build off of the first movie’s foundation. Instead of introducing tons of characters and locations just to show the expanse of the Lego universe, this time we’re able to really focus in on our core characters, specifically Emmet and Lucy.
It would be easy to follow a basic formula and pump these sequels out every year, but it’s evident how much effort went into crafting this film – it’s truly a continuation, not just a recreation. Yes, it still revolves around minifigures, building elaborate creations and saving the world, but Lord and Miller dramatically up these elements and bring in plenty of fresh ideas, too.
Specifically, the songs are a surprising success. There’s no denying that “Everything Is Awesome” was a catchy, iconic jam, but instead of just a theme song, we’ve actually got full on musical numbers to further the plot this time around. Haddish carries a majority of the vocal duties with numbers like “Not Evil” and “Gotham City Guys,” two songs that are equally hilarious and awesome.
In traditional Lego movie fashion, the audience is treated to a few brief glimpses of the outside human world to help them put together the missing pieces of the story line. We may know it as the Sistar System, but thanks to this omniscient view, we learn that it’s really a younger sister trying to convince her older brother to play Legos with her. Simultaneously in the Lego world, Lucy discovers that Queen Watevra Wa’Nabi and the entire Sistar System are genuine in their wishes to unite the two kingdoms, because it’s the sister trying to spend time with her brother.
In another twist, Rex is revealed to actually be a rogue future version of Emmet, who’d been lost underneath the washing machine for years and turned resentful. As a result, he’s committed to stopping the unification and destroying the Sistar System once and for all, and he’s brainwashed Emmet to help him. But after the real world mom, played hilariously by Maya Rudolph, threatens to get rid of every brick and minifigure if the brother and sister can’t get along, Emmet and the rest of the brother’s toys quickly come around and make peace.
While the return to the Lego universe may not feel as groundbreaking and creative as the first journey, its charm and entertaining self-awareness are as present as ever. Mix in a few fun musical numbers and a genuine, heartfelt message and it makes for an exciting trip to the theater.
Star Rating: 3.5 out of 5
Zach Goins is a member of the North Carolina Film Critics Association based in Charlotte, N.C. Zach co-founded Inside The Film Room in 2018 and serves as Editor-in-Chief of the website and co-host of the podcast. Zach also serves as a film critic for CLTure.org.