Released: 28th February
Seen: 10th March
In 2014, the movie The Lego Movie came out and shocked everyone. Sure, Lego had released parody movies before straight to DVD and had little joke sketches made but a full-length original feature-length film that was just generally about Lego? That sounded like it was destined for disaster. And yet, stunningly, it wasn’t. The Lego Movie fast became a monster hit, the 5th highest grossing film of 2014, it got an Oscar nomination for the deliriously catchy song “Everything Is Awesome”, a song so catchy that me typing that sentence has forced that song back into the heads of everyone who heard it. It also managed to surprise everyone with an emotional story about someone’s imagination being restrained by the attitude of their distant father. It’s genuinely one of the greatest animated films of the last decade and I will gleefully die upon this hill… so, when they announced that there was a sequel coming out, I was incredibly nervous because there aren’t exactly many sequels to great animated films that are as good as the original. Lucky me then that The Lego Movie series just enjoys surprising me with how good it actually is.
The Lego Movie 2: The Second Part begins literally seconds after the first Lego Movie ended, when everything was awesome and everything was cool because we were part of a team. Of course, because we can’t keep having awesome things then it’s only right that the little sister of the real world boy wants to play and her Duplo monsters wreak havoc among the citizens of Bricksburg, turning it from an awesome community into a Mad Max-style wasteland where everyone must be brooding and dark in order to survive… except Emmett (Chris Pratt) has literally no idea how on earth to be tough and brooding because he is basically a precious being made of sunshine and love and wouldn’t know how to brood if you literally gave him explicit instructions on how to do that. With everything substantially less awesome than before, the only way that things could get worse would be if an alien came down to earth, kidnapped about half a dozen of Emmett’s friends and took them off to partake in a wedding to Queen Watevra Wa’Nabi (Tiffany Haddish) which would lead Emmett to take part in a quest to get them back that would also potentially serve as a symbolic story about growing up and appreciating the family that you have… but that would be silly, right?
One of the best things about the first movie was how it poked fun at so many of Warner Brothers’ properties, and this movie does the same kind of thing. Mocking the Justice League movie and the DC universe in general leads to some really good ideas, though something tells me that had Ben Affleck quit about a year or two ago then they would’ve made that more of a thing in this movie. I love a good joke about Justice League and the superhero genre in general, but after the first Lego Movie, Lego Batman and Teen Titan’s Go have shown how to do it amazingly, I expect a lot more than what I got with this material. There’s also a lot of jokes regarding the clichés of the family film, in particular Disney (describing the specific cliché they mock would be a spoiler, but once you see the movie it becomes clear what element of recent Disney films they’re having a go at) and… and that’s kind of it in terms of satire. There are still jokes here, a lot of them and mostly they come from the great characters that have been created but that pointed satirical barb that was present in the last movie seems to have dulled here.
What hasn’t dulled, at least not much, is how this film manages to relate the story of the animated Lego characters with the story of the real-life people who were playing with the Lego. In the last movie, the entire thing became a very emotional story about a boy trying to display some kind of imagination while his domineering father kept pushing it down, that was the emotional core of the first Lego Movie and it’s what made that movie special. Sadly, Will Ferrell was off making poor career decisions for the last 5 years so we basically lost that connection and it was replaced with a sister-brother story, which still works well and isn’t a spoiler because it’s literally part of the inciting incident, but it gives the film a good backbone to work from. Not as good as the first one, but still pretty damn good.
The Lego Movie 2: The Second Part is not quite as good as the original, but that bar is obscenely high and there is basically no way that this could’ve cleared it. The jokes are great, the story is great, the characters are great and everything works. Every cast member brings their best work, the songs are joyfully catchy (I expect Catchy Song to be nominated for an Oscar… because I have a great track record of predicting what songs will be nominated for that award, right Ashes and Upbeat Inspirational Song About Life?) and the animation is just as awesome as it was before. Everything is Awesome… but the first one was awesomer.