12:00 pm EST, February 10, 2019

‘The LEGO Movie 2: The Second Part’ review: Everything is still awesome

Emmet returns with his Bricktopia pals for an intergalactic adventure that keeps in the spirit of the original LEGO Movie.

The LEGO Movie 2: The Second Part picks up right where the 2014 original left off. After fending off the evil Kragle takeover by Lord Business (Will Ferrell), Emmet (Chris Pratt), Wyldstyle (Elizabeth Banks), and the rest of the Bricktopia citizens are faced with an invasion from the real world little sister’s Duplo blocks, who have descended from the Stairgate (a.k.a. the stairs leading down into the basement), where we discovered all the LEGO worlds are set up.

They arrive awash in deceptive cuteness that’s irresistible as they destroy everything in their wake. This happens again and again until Bricktopia, five years later, is finally forced to transform itself into the gritty, hardened world of Brickapocalypse, which is basically a clever riff on Mad Max: Fury Road. There is one person still unaffected by this harsh new reality: Emmet Brickowski, whose sunny disposition threatens to cause the return of the Duplo invaders.

This might sound like a lot of exposition and setup, and there’s no denying it is, but screenwriters Phil Lord and Chris Miller, who wrote and directed the first LEGO Movie, know how to pack a lot into a little. Beyond the zany setup, the plot moves head-spinningly fast and threatens to spin completely out of control.

But Lord and Miller have impeccable control over their chaos. While this time they’re not at the helm — Mike Mitchell (Trolls, Shrek Forever After) directs this outing — the movie’s tone is still very much in line with their brand of wit.

General Mayhem (Stephanie Beatriz) bursts onto the scene and kidnaps all of Emmet’s friends including Wyldstyle, Batman (Will Arnett), Unikitty (Allison Brie), MetalBeard (Nick Offerman) and Benny (Charlie Day). But before packing up, she assesses their adventure from the previous movie and, through her lens, Lord and Miller cleverly flip the premise on its head. Emmet was supposedly the hero of that story, but really it was Wyldstyle doing all the work. “So the man took all the credit?” Mayhem asks.

The sequel continues in this vein, rightfully updating whose story this is. Bricktopia has seen a lot of change in five years, and we, too, as audiences and viewers, have come a long way even since 2014. And Miller and Lord take note.

Also, with Chris Pratt making negative headlines lately due to his involvement with a notoriously anti-LGBT church, the movie serendipitously manages to solve its own Chris Pratt problem.

Without giving too much away, one of the new characters introduced is Rex Dangervest, also voiced by Pratt, and it works both as a meta-commentary on Pratt’s success (and subsequent failure) as action hero/leading man, and spins Pratt’s character becoming his own worst enemy.

Toxic masculinity, boastful ego and fake hero complex are all tackled head-on, and it’s no coincidence it revolves around Pratt’s protagonist Emmet. The story of the LEGO movies ends up being reclaimed, in a smart move, by Wyldstyle.

Once the gang hits the colorful explosion of Duplo’s space universe, they’re introduced to the overlord up there, the feisty Queen Watevra Wa’Nabi, voiced by Tiffany Haddish in some truly inspired casting. She runs the show, even with her voice alone, just as she did in Girls Trip, and it might be her best role since that breakout. She sings, schemes and scene-steals with energy to spare. Wyldstyle and the rest find themselves roped into a matrimonial ceremony that could cause a cataclysmic event called the Our-mom-pocalypse.

Haddish’s two songs are the movie’s standout musical numbers, and for a movie packed to the brim with music, that’s a feat in itself. There are not one, but two new versions of “Everything is Awesome” acknowledging that, hey, sometimes everything isn’t awesome, and that’s okay.

Beyond the head-spinning plot that twists, turns and doubles back on itself in a slightly overlong 106-minute running time, there’s also a startling number of insane cameos throughout this thing. I wouldn’t dare spoil any of them, so I can leave viewers to gasp in delightful discovery just as I did at each new surprising face to grace this LEGO universe.

Best of all, The LEGO Movie 2: The Second Part, even through its convoluted plot, has so much on its mind and explores so many themes. If The LEGO Movie was a brutal takedown of capitalism under the guise of a kid-friendly adventure, the sequel is a plead for empathy, an ode to not othering people and to opening your hearts and minds to helping others and working together.

Nothing can top the shocking originality of the first movie, and there’s no possible way to recapture that discovery of something never-before-seen, but Lord and Miller manage to creatively expand their world while keeping in line with themes important to them and, perhaps intentionally or not, updating this world of Bricktopia and the story of its characters to match our world in 2019.

Our Score

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