Zach Steensma—Staff Writer
The first “LEGO Movie” (2014) was a visual fantastic filmmaking feat. With clever visual gags, sharp humor, and a heartfelt message, it has since gone on to be held in high regard for its homage to stop motion LEGO filmmakers of the early internet, and its ridiculously catchy title song, “Everything Is Awesome”. For a feature length commercial, it had all the makings of a well-made animated film.
“The LEGO Movie 2: The Second Part” picks up where the last movie left off, with the invasion of DUPLO toys into the city of Bricksburg. In the five years since then, the plastic city has been decimated by the invaders, and all of the minifigure residents of the city have adopted a hilarious Mad Max parody aesthetic.
That is, all except for Emmett (Chris Pratt), the protagonist of the first film, who just can’t seem to change and adapt with the times. His contagious optimism and enthusiasm for life has somehow remained intact, while his best friend Lucy (Elizabeth Banks) grows frustrated with his cheerful antics. Emmett inadvertently brings the “aliens” back to the post-apocalyptic town, where they proceed to kidnap his friends, sending him on a mission to space to rescue them.
While “The LEGO Movie 2” starts off strong, pulling laughs with the same wit and ease as its predecessor, it loses its bite as the film goes on and quickly turns into an overabundance of self-aware meta humor, an element of the first film that feels overplayed here. Ultimately, the jokes just don’t land as well.
The emotional weight of the movie is also lost to a lack of subtlety. In the first movie, it was revealed at the end of the film what was “really” going on: a young boy, disconnected from his father, playing with LEGO toys in his basement. The entire story was an allegory for his frustration.
In this installment, the human layer of the film is revealed almost right away, and the human characters make much more frequent appearances. It becomes immediately apparent that Finn (Jadon Sand), the boy from the first film, is in a fight with his younger sister, Bianca (Brooklyn Prince) over their LEGO toys, due to their inability to share and refusal to play with one other. While still a clever underlying story with connections to the LEGO world of the kids’ collective imagination, it lacks the impact that it carried the first time around.
Still, there’s a lot to love about this movie. LEGO fans and enthusiasts will no doubt scour the film for Easter eggs of their favorite sets, and the film still manages to entertain with a star-studded cast. Not to mention an abundance of songs that are even more humorous and catchy (or irritating, depending on your mood). It’s no classic, but it’s a fun, family-friendly animated film.