Pratt & Company Build More Fun In LEGO MOVIE 2: THE SECOND PART

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LEGO MOVIE 2: THE SECOND PART opens February 8, 2019

Lego toys--everybody loves ‘em, unless you step on one. Tiny plastic bricks embedded in your foot will send you from serene to swearing instantly. Did you ever once think, “You know, these fun little bits of plastic and the yellow, stiff-limbed action figures that often come with them would make for an absurdly funny and at times touching film nearly everyone, regardless of age, would enjoy. Why, it would be so popular, in fact, that it would spawn a full-fledged Hollywood franchise, spin-off movies, a TV show, and theme park rides?”

If you said yes, you are either thrilled that Lego Movie 2: The Second Part starts on Friday, or you’re mad at the team of director Mike Mitchell, who takes over the director’s chair from screenwriters Chris Miller and Phil Lord , for beating you to the punch. Simmer down, buddy. The first Lego Movie only made a quarter of a billion dollars. That’s pretty impressive for a film that managed to tie a little “after school special” style family conflict and resolution into a childlike fantasy world where Marvel star Chris Pratt plays Emmet Brickowski (get it? It’s a pun!) who partners with renegade ninja pop diva Wyldstyle (Elizabeth Banks), Batman ((Will Arnet), Benny, the 80s Spaceman (Charlie Day) Princess Unkitty (Alison Brie) and MetalBeard the piecemeal pirate (Nick Offerman), plus dozens of oddball cameos ranging from Abraham Lincoln (Will Forte) to Tolkien’s Gandalf the Grey (Todd Hansen) in opposition to the maniacal Lord Business (Will Ferrell). Everyone is back again in The Second Part, with the dashing and ultra-manly Rex Dangervest (I’m sworn to secrecy, but Rex himself insisted that I call him ultra-manly…which sounds like something Marvel’s Starlord might say, but that’s just my opinion) except for Morgan Freeman as Vitruvius and Liam Neeson as Good Cop/Bad Cop. And no, it isn’t due to that recent admission by Neeson that is causing a major uproar in the media right now--this film was in production long before Neeson opened up that extra large can of controversy for himself. Don’t worry though, random moments like Bruce Willis as a Lego-styled John McClane and Jason Momoa voicing his Lego-styled Aquaman fill in nicely.  The menace facing our heroes this time comes from shapeshifting Queen Watevra Wa-Nabi of the Systar System (Tiffany Haddish and more puns) and her top warrior, General Sweet Mayhem (Stephanie Beatriz). Evil women from the Systar System invading orderly Bricksburg--can you guess what the “real life” conflict is that provides that Saturday morning cartoon moment of wisdom? SNL alum Maya Rudolph is on screen as Will Ferrell’s wife, though Ferrell is only seen in flashbacks.

Most sequels don’t quite measure up to the original. Lego Movie 2: The Second Part feels like a linear continuation, though the randomness of Queen Watevra Wa-Nabi and her forces sometimes undercut just how well-done the animation actually is. Made to look like Duplo blocks, larger, generally simpler Lego bricks for the younger builders, the antagonists come off as visually crude a times compared to the slicker designs of President Business two years ago. That’s the point, of course, but the hyperkinetic colors and rapid CGI movements get rather exhausting by the end. Despite the creative team’s attempts to get T-Pain and That Girl Lay Lay’s “Catchy Song” stuck in my head, I went home and tracked down Beck, Robyn, and The Lonely Island’s “Super Cool,” the ultimate end credits song, for another listen. The humor is generally appropriate for most viewers but the real fun is the subtle way the cast or their characters make fun of themselves. Emmet is nothing like the hunky brooding hero Pratt plays in Jurassic Park and Guardians of the Galaxy. Arnet's Batman turns the Caped Crusader's narcissism up to eleven. The love/hate banter between Channing Tatum as Superman and Jonah Hill as Green Lantern is hilarious to my Marvelous sensabilities. Overall it's just as fun if not quite as original, but that's typical of sequels.

If you enjoyed the original, you’ll enjoy Lego Movie 2: The Second Part too when it opens everywhere on February 8, 2019. If you didn’t, you’ve clicked away three paragraphs ago. If you’re weird, you just counted the paragraphs in this article. And if you’re like me, you’re kicking yourself for not having come up with the idea of The Lego Movie yourself when you were playing with Benny the Spaceman back in 1984. Now if I could just build a Lego time machine and beat Miller, Lord and Mitchell to the huge payday…alas, I don’t even have my old Lincoln Logs anymore.

4.0 / 5.0