By: Christian Harding (Three Beers) –
Wanna feel old? It’s been half a decade since the first The Lego Movie came out…
A whopping five years have passed since The Lego Movie came out of nowhere and surprised the hell out of just about everyone, not the least of all this reviewer. What looked like yet another in a revolving door of shameless, obvious cash grabs turned out to be, well… still that. But at least it was a really charming, creative cash grab! And with the double whammy of Frozen and The Lego Movie both being released within months of each other, a brand new era of snarky, self-aware children’s animated films had begun.
These films sought out to not merely recreate tired old tropes, but rather poke fun at these conventions and have a whole tongue-in-cheek attitude about their formulated plots. Again, all the while still utilizing these plots in a straightforward, unironic fashion. Fast forward five years, and sardonic, self-aware children’s animation is the norm for these sorts of things, and after two Lego spinoff movies, we finally have a direct sequel to the 2014 hit that helped start a whole new trend, which ironically was born from calling out the overused trends of the past. The film in question here being the aptly titled The Lego Movie 2: The Second Part. I mean… they aren’t technically wrong there, soooooo…… *shrugs*
The plot this time around concerns… hoo boy. Do I have to? I know it’s customary for the reviewer to quickly summarize the storyline of the film they’re discussing during a usual writeup. But just beginning to think about where to start with this one is an exhausting prospect. Let’s just say that The Lego Movie 2 picks up almost exactly where the last one left off and it involves the same lovable, recognizable cast of characters from the first film, who are all embarking on a brand new set of misadventures, whilst exploring some brand new worlds and coming across a whole new cast of characters, while still maintaining the same energy and tone as the first film (much to its detriment, but more on that in the next section). And it’s in the newer details where this sequel begins to shine. Sure we’re all comfortable with and like the characters from the first film, but the real stars of the show here are newcomers Rex Dangervest (Chris Pratt channeling the most pure Kurt Russell energy this side of Sky High) and the wonderfully designed (and voiced with equally charm by Tiffany Haddish) antagonist Queen Watevra Wa’Nabi, both of whom are given lots of room to grow and become perfectly solid additions to this most cartoonish of ensembles.
While there isn’t anything technically “wrong” or even close to bad about The Lego Movie 2: The Second Part, you can’t really escape the feeling that so much of it just feels sort off… I don’t know. Tired and worn out? Which is odd, because five years since the first film really isn’t that long of a time-frame in the grand scheme of things. But between the 2014 film and now, there’s been two other theatrical Lego spinoffs (The Lego Batman Movie and The Lego Ninjago Movie, respectively) with very similar visual styles, senses of humor, obvious morals, third act twists, etc.
For this newest film to really stand out, it had to offer something truly new or unexpected somewhere herein (apart from some admittedly lovable new characters), if they wanted it to make a big splash like the first did. But unfortunately, that’s not really the case with this puppy. In terms of the technical aspects, everything about this film is equally as good as it was the first time around. It’s just that there isn’t much to offer in the way of evolving or moving forward with neither the presentation of the story, nor the substance the film is really going for here.
Not only is there fundamentally nothing all that fresh or new about The Lego Movie 2: The Second Part, but dare I say that its formula of skewering other formulas has started to become a bit stale? The quick-witted, quip-heavy referential style of humor seemed more innovative when it was a rarity, especially within the mainstream. But now that “brand new” mode of storytelling is the norm these days. Not even just in children’s properties like Frozen or The Lego Movie, but it’s now creeped into adult-geared entertainment as well, with things like Deadpool utilizing the same style of humor, albeit with a more adult and “mature” edge to it. As I said before, this newest Lego film really had to present us with another unexpected angle or direction to take the whole story in for it to make a big impression or stay in the public consciousness like the first film. But without that, we still have an entertaining product, but one that can’t help feeling a bit more hollow or familiar than many of us were likely hoping for.
Overall, The Lego Movie 2 is a functionally enjoyable experience. While it’s nowhere near as fresh or surprising as the first one, how could it possibly be? The original had so much of the element of surprise on its side, whereas this followup is more burdened with five years worth of anticipation and expectations. So much so that the fact we got anything approaching the charm or innovation of the first film should be more than enough. Just keep your expectations lukewarm and this one should brighten your weekend afternoon just fine. More of the same doesn’t always have to be a bad thing, if it was really entertaining the first time around.
The Lego Movie 2: The Second Part (2019) Drinking Game
Do a Shot: every time there’s a notable pop culture reference and/or cameo.
Do another Shot: each time it cuts to the live action section.
One more Shot: whenever a musical number begins.
Shotgun a Beer: for the obligatory third act plot twist.