‘Lego Movie 2’ Review: So Good It Makes the Original Look as Basic as Duplo
The first Lego Movie (2014) was way better than it had any right to be, turning what could have been a naked cash grab into a hilarious, touching story thanks to a perfectly crafted script from movie-making duo Phil Lord and Christopher Miller and a star-studded cast. The Lego Movie 2: The Second Part (and that’s the last time I’ll use the full title) has an even tougher task of surpassing the original. Miraculously, it succeeds with flying colors by doubling down on everything that made The Lego Movie great while sneaking in a powerful positive message.
A lot has changed in the Lego-verse since 2014 (Batman got his own movie, Ninjago happened), but in 2019 the franchise returns to its roots. Lord and Miller are back as writers, along with new director Mike Mitchell (Trolls, Deuce Bigalow) and the same expansive cast (Chris Pratt, Elizabeth Banks, Alison Brie, Will Arnett, Nick Offerman, Charlie Day), plus Tiffany Haddish as the evil (?) Queen Watevra Wa’Nabi (get it?) and Richard Ayoade as her hilarious ice cream cone-shaped assistant.
It’s a big cast and an even bigger adventure, featuring inter-dimensional space travel, time loops, brainwashing pop music, and the “Ar-mom-ageddon” (what happens when mom gets upset and makes her kids pack up all the Lego for good). Like the original Lego Movie, everything here is working on two levels: the actual world where kids play with toys, and the Lego world where those toys try to make sense of the changes inflicted on them from above. It’s never really clear if the toys are actually sentient like in Toy Story or it’s all happening in the imagination of the people playing with them, but ultimately, it doesn’t really matter
All the action, jokes, and musical interludes (the weakest parts of the movie come when its characters break into songs) are just window dressing for a deeper story. Without getting too far into spoiler territory, Lego Movie 2 explores the dynamic between an older brother and his annoying younger sister, before subverting our expectations to reveal that the sister might not be as annoying as she seems. Younger sisters the world over may see the big twist coming from miles away, but as a long-time older brother, I was genuinely caught by surprise.
This is still a comedy, of course, and the writing is as funny as ever. The Lego Movie 2 delivers multiple laughs per minute. One of the best jokes comes about halfway through the film, delivered with a straight face by Superman (Channing Tatum): “The S is for sill now,” he says. “I’m Sillyman.” With just a few words, Tatum reveals exactly what makes these movies so great: By stripping away any sense of seriousness, anything that’s ever been turned into lego (so everything) can be mined for comedy.
That idea alone is enough to fuel an entire franchise of great Lego movies, and for the moment this series shows no signs of slowing down. More importantly, the fact that Lord and Miller also took the time to include some deeper meaning in this story reveals that not only can the Lego-verse keep growing, but it deserves to.
The Lego Movie 2 hits theaters on February 8, 2019.