Certified critic on Rotten Tomatoes. Member of the Houston Film Critics Society. Also writes for Bounding Into Comics and GeeksHaveGame.
The Lego Movie 2: The Second Part has a really awkward timeline picking up right at the end of the previous film where the Duplo invaders penetrate Bricksburg. Emmet Brickowski (Chris Pratt) attempts to negotiate peace by building a heart out of Legos, but to no avail. The Duplo invaders destroy Bricksburg and continue to smash everything every time an attempt to rebuild occurs. Five years pass, Bricksburg becomes a desolate wasteland, and Apocalypseburg is born. The citizens become more mature, develop a thick skin, and are coldhearted towards the town they now know will never be what it once was. However, Emmet remains optimistic, lighthearted, and soft towards the invasion.
Duplo army leader General Mayhem (Stephanie Beatriz) abducts Apocalypseburg citizens who she believes would make efficient leaders: Benny (Charlie Day), MetalBeard (Nick Offerman), Unikitty (Alison Brie), Batman (Will Arnett), and Wyldstyle/Lucy (Elizabeth Banks). Mayhem takes them to the Systar System where Queen Watevra Wa’nabi (Tiffany Haddish) intends to marry Batman. While trying to save his friends, Emmet is saved/hijacked/tutored by the impressively masculine and overly extreme Rex Dangervest. Meanwhile, Emmet is having dreams of the upcoming Ar-mom-ageddon which may or may not involve the fate of the entire Lego universe.
The Lego Movie and The Lego Batman Movie were films that seemed like they’d never appeal to someone who wasn’t a kid and yet defied initial first impressions and became two of the most fun, creative, and entertaining animated films of 2014 and 2017 respectively. Considering that The Lego Movie screenwriters/directors Phil Lord and Christopher Miller wrote the screenplay for The Lego Movie 2, you’d think the sequel would find a way to be just as great as the first film. However, the sequel lacks the humor and clever qualities that made the first film so great and exchanges those qualities for formulaic genericness.
Will Arnett’s Batman and a handful of the songs from The Lego Movie 2’s soundtrack (“Not Evil” by Tiffany Haddish, “Catchy Song” by T-Pain, and “Super Cool” by Beck) are the best parts of the animated sequel. Batman seemed to come full circle at the end of The Lego Batman Movie; he became a little less self-absorbed and learned that the people around him are just as pivotal to success as he is. He seems to have backtracked since Bricksburg has become dilapidated. But the character dives into unexplored territory in this film and goes into an entirely new direction for the Lego cinematic universe. Will Arnett is so perfect and funny in the role and you can’t help but love every Batman scene because of how ridiculously into himself that the character is.
“Not Evil” may be the most clever song on the soundtrack. The song is meant to ease the tension Systar’s new visitors are likely experiencing and yet the lyrics are too suspicious to not think something more underhanded is transpiring. “Catchy Song” basically replaces “Everything is Awesome” as the catchiest song of this franchise. The lyrics even point out that the song will get stuck in your head and it absolutely will. As a big Beck fan, “Super Cool” is a personal favorite. However, the song plays over the end credits and it’s just as amazing if not slightly more so than the end credits to the first film. The Lonely Island return to make reading credits way more amusing than it should be. The song sounds like an eclectic mix of some of Beck’s previous albums like a Colors remix of a song from Midnite Vultures.
The biggest downside of the film is that all the major plot points and jokes seem to borrow from other movies. The storyline is a lot like the first episode of season seven of South Park entitled, “Cancelled.” The boys experience déjà vu of the very first episode and are abducted by aliens where their host can take the form of anything it wishes. Apocalypseburg is essentially a family friendly version of Mad Max, the final showdown between Emmet and Rex is a ripoff of a joke from Team America, and Emmet’s fateful dream is awfully reminiscent of 12 Monkeys. You could probably make this argument about any film, but when everything about a film reminds you of not only one other film but at least three or four others then it doesn’t feel like it’s doing its job properly. The film also goes out of its way to reference all of Chris Pratt’s blockbuster roles over the past few years. The way it’s all connected is intriguing, but it also feels half-cocked at best since it’s basically taking a bunch of ideas already conjured by other people and strings them together in a different order.
Music has always been a major factor to The Lego Movie formula, but The Lego Movie 2 reaches Frozen levels of annoying. The sequel has an overabundance of songs, remixes, and mentions of “Everything is Awesome.” It’s not that the songs didn’t move things along or weren’t essential to the storyline, but singing felt a lot more important this time around and even the characters in the film seemed to reference that and not know where it was coming from.
Based on its Rotten Tomatoes score, this seems to be an opinion of the minority. The Lego Movie 2: The Second Part will likely still be successful at the box office (Box Office Mojo is saying it's expected to make $50-$55 million opening weekend) delighting families for the next few weeks at local movie theaters. But the film didn’t make me laugh out loud as often as the original film (or ever, really) and the creative juices seemed to be scraping the bottom of the barrel with its endless movie references and most charming and entertaining aspect being a recycling of a chunk of one of its main stars filmography. Maybe after four theatrical films, The Lego Movie franchise has run its course for this adult viewer because this sequel is as disappointing as finding someone’s hidden booger collection buried within your favorite Lego set.
This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.
© 2019 Chris Sawin