A flawed but funny follow-up that never gets too clever for its own good, The Lego Movie 2: The Second Part paradoxically feels both more timely and more dated than its predecessor.
It opens five years after the original Lego Movie in the dystopian ruins of Lego City, which has been battered into Mad Max pastiche (pulling into the drive two or three years too late to still feel fresh) by babbling, bubblegum pink invaders from outer space. Lucy (Elizabeth Banks), Batman (Will Arnett) and the others are kidnapped, and taken to the domain of a (probably) evil queen, in order to attend the forceful union between Batman and herself, leaving Emmet (Chris Pratt) to save the day, enlisting the help of a tough-talking Han Solo type along the way.
Those of you who remember the twist from the end of the first movie can probably figure out where this is going: it is the newborn sister of that little boy that has arrived to spoil the fun with her exploding hearts and killer unicorns, ultimately leading to a comment on the virtues of embracing femininity over the cursed half-life of toxic masculinity, a comment that has likewise started to feel a little “done” (if not quite “to death”) in recent years. It’s still an important lesson, however, especially for the little boys in the audience who need to learn to play nice with little sister, while also pointing out how grimdark dystopias have become a stand-in for maturity.
As you can probably guess from the title, The Lego Movie 2: The Second Part is also self-referential to a fault. The obligatory ‘villain’ song (provided by Tiffany Haddish) brazenly announces itself as the exact opposite in a genius double-bluff, while its follow up, in which Haddish employs the same reverse psychology to trick Batman into marrying her, is loaded with references to make all the Batman geeks squee. There’s also plenty of looking off into the distance to deliver an internal monologue or a gratuitously tragic backstory, all of which is conveniently signposted by the characters themselves. It’s easy for jokes like this to come across as smug, but fortunately the film never puts more than a toe across that very fine line. The Lego Movie 2: The Second Part even throws itself under the bus a few times for the sake of fairness, lampooning its iconic earworm “Everything is Awesome” in a hilarious scene where a similar song (literally titled “Catchy Song”) is used as a form of torture.
The most obvious redeeming feature of The Second Part is that, like the first, it is very funny. The jokes almost always land and everyone in the cast pulls their weight to deliver some strong comedic performances. Fittingly, however, the female cast members are the real standouts. Alison Brie is as funny and flexible a voice actress as she was in the original. Meanwhile, among the newcomers, Maya Angelou (tentatively replacing Will Ferrell as the human kids’ mother) and Stephanie Beatriz, are both equal parts witty and heartfelt, while Haddish’s evil queen can be cute and coy one minute and simperingly sinister the next.
Despite a slow first act and fairly uninspired morals, this sequel has enough flare and fun to carry both parents and children through its tightly structured script and beautifully animated worlds. Overall, The Lego Movie 2: The Second Part is fun and inoffensive. It’s no Shrek 2, but very few animated sequels are.
The Lego Movie 2: The Second Part will be released on DVD, Blu-ray and Digital Download on June 3rd courtesy of Warner Bros. Home Entertainment, and will be available from Amazon.co.uk and other leading retailers.