It’s been five years since The LEGO Movie became a surprise hit, but those five years were spent to good effect. The LEGO Movie 2: The Second Part is almost as good as the original.
Set five years after ultra-cheerful builder Emmet Brickowski (Chris Pratt) and his friends defeated the evil Lord Business (Will Ferrell), we find the once happy Bricksburg reduced to rubble by the DUPLO invaders – necessitating a new name for the post-apocalyptic community: Apocalypseburg.
The only citizen of Apocalypseburg who hasn’t changed is, of course, Emmett – who cheerful buys morning coffees for himself and his best friend, Wyldstyle/Lucy (Elizabeth Banks).
When Emmett builds his perfect little house with yard and a picket fence, he inadvertently attracts another attack – the DUPLOs seek out and destroy anything that is shiny and new and perfect – and the attack results in the kidnapping of Wyldstyle/Lucy by someone calling themselves General Mayhem (Stephanie Beatriz).
Since earlier efforts by the Justice League failed to stop the DUPLOs – and none of the League returned – it’s now up to Emmett to save her.
Following them to a distant star system, Emmett finds them happily serving Queen Watevra Wa-Nabi (Tiffany Haddish) – and enlists the help of Rex Dangervest (also Pratt) to help him toughen up enough to rescue them.
While the animation of The Second Part is up to the level established in the earlier film, it doesn’t quite match the original’s consistently inventive and sneakily effective balance between humor for kids, adolescents and adults.
It does, however, have some of the sharp edges of the first – the opening act effectively pokes fun at all manner of post-apocalyptic movies (especially Mad Max) and plays on the effectiveness of cuteness to elicit positive responses potentially detrimental to the respondent.
Each character gets a bit of shade, too – Batman’s (Will Arnett) fear of commitment is particularly well drawn.
Some unexpectedly cool moments find the film affectionately taking the mickey out of Bruce Willis and Ruth Bader Ginsberg.
Add to the mix a throughline in which the first film’s young lad, Flynn (Jadon Sand), his young sister, Bianca (Brooklynn Prince) and their Mom (Maya Rudolph) provide a counterpoint of sorts to the LEGO action, and you have a film that creates enough original moments to still be very entertaining.
Even the first third of the credits maintain some ingenuity (several kids in the audience stayed through them because they were so much fun) – and, except for laughter, the kids in the audience weren’t at all tired or disruptive even though the film is close to two hours long (including those entertaining closing credits).
Not all of the songs are as brilliant as Everything Is Awesome, though Catchy Song is an earworm that stays with you after the movie, and Everything’s Not Awesome is a clever reworking of the original that turns out to be quite uplifting.
Overall, The LEGO Movie 2: The Second Part isn’t quite a match for its predecessor, but it comes much closer than I was expecting.
Final Grade: A-