“The Lego Movie” was a truly unique and game changing film when it debuted back in 2014. It showed that a film that shilled a product didn’t necessarily have to be a sad, cynical cash grab. Under the helm of Chris Lord & Phil Miller, the men behind MTV cult hit, “Clone High,” the “21 Jump Street” films, a version of “SOLO” we will never see and the recent smash hit, “Into the Spider-Verse,” the film boasted top notch animation, an unbearably catchy theme song and a nice moral about embracing your own creativity and what makes you special.
Sadly, ‘special’ is not an adjective I can use to describe this sequel. While boasting many of the same traits and qualities of the first film, “TLM 2” doesn’t match it in terms of originality or even humor. The film picks up five years after the events of the first where we see our main character Emmett (Chris Pratt) is still the ever optimistic dope despite now living in a gritty “Mad Max” style future brought on by invading Duplo Blocks and creatures from the Sis-Star system. With his friends Lucy, Batman, UniKitty and others kidnapped by one of the Sis-Star Queen’s minions, he must travel to parts unknown to get them back and save the day.
The film tries everything in it’s power to one up the original in terms of scope and scale but it lacks the punchy sense of humor and specific fourth-wall breaking humor that made that film so memorable. The last film truly lived and breathed LEGOs as the, no pun intended, building blocks of this world. They went above and beyond to craft a traditional yet clever narrative that allowed them to use this bizarre format to their advantage. Here it is an extremely conventional narrative and a rather predictable one at that. People you think are the villains aren’t really the villains and people you think are trustworthy are anything but that.
Whereas in the first film there was a very funny twist regarding a plot device within the story and a funny way of tying our world back to the world of the LEGOs, here everything is very paint-by-numbers. The moral of embracing one’s own creativity is chucked out for a moral I still don’t fully grasp. The film tries to setup a decent moral about learning to change in new environments but then proceeds to undo that with it’s eventual twist come the third act. It then tries to go for a, “Can’t we all just get along?” type message which doesn’t quite stick it’s landing. No spoilers but the circumstances in which these morals are presented feel very forced and rather contradictory to things we saw earlier in the film.
The film also is working overtime to recapture the hit that was “Everything is Awesome.” They try to do this by not only doing two remixes of that track but also trying to cram in a bunch of new songs that, despite boasting some impressive animation, ultimately take up more time than needed. There is a particularly odd choice to have Batman & a character played by Tiffany Haddish share a love ballad, which again serves no significant purpose. The gags this time around were less inspired than the first which is a shame because Lord & Miller are really funny but here, never warranted more than a few chuckles.
“THE LEGO MOVIE 2: THE SECOND PART” has some truly stellar animation, funny gags & set pieces and voice work from the likes of Chris Pratt, Will Arnett and Elizabeth Banks but fails to recapture that same spark that made the first film such a breath of fresh air. Phil Lord and Christopher Miller are two extremely talented creators but this is definitely not their strongest outing: together or separately.
If you have kids to entertain or are a true LEGO fan/collector, you might find some supreme entertainment here but as far as I am concerned, there is not a whole lot of awesome in “THE LEGO MOVIE 2: THE SECOND PART.”