Everything is not awesome in Lego Movie 2: The Second Part (a comment I’m sure I won’t be the first or last to make), the sequel to the 2014 adventure that first introduced us to everyman Emmet and his pal Wyldstyle. That meta adventure was smart, fun and hilarious. In part two, the surprise and delight that made the first one is gone, and so is the rat-a-tat humor that made it so enjoyable. In its place is a disappointing facsimile that feels like mediocre fan fiction. The smart humor has mostly been replaced by too many musical numbers.
The story was setup in the ending moments of the first film as the real-life boy whose imagination created the film’s universe had his playtime upset with the threat of his little sister. In the second film, the Lego universe is a bleak, Mad Max-esque wasteland that faces an onslaught from space warriors from the seester solar system. A lot of the returning heroes from the previous film are captured by the totally not evil Watevra Wa’Nabi (Tiffany Haddish) and it’s up to earnest hero Emmet (Chris Pratt) to save the day, along with the help of a more adventurous bro Rex (also Pratt).
Chris Miller and Phil Lord who co-wrote and directed the first flick return as co-writers here (with Matthew Fogel, whose biggest prior credit is the third Big Momma’s House) but directing duties went to Mike Mitchell (Trolls, a later Shrek, an Alvin movie). While the live footage was a surprise in the first film, the second film leans into the meta concept and the collision of those universes makes the tenuous tie between the two tedious and unimaginative. Maya Rudolph does her best as the mom, but all of the live scenes fall a bit flat.
As bleak as this review is, the film isn’t outright bad, merely dull and unengaging. One musical number was fine, but the returns on those are lesser the more that pop in. Pratt does admirably with both of his roles, and Elizabeth Banks as Lucy/Wyldstyle is still a delight. The movie spends a lot more time with her, for both the meta perspective and while offering a fair indictment of the first film (that she was the smart, bold, heroic one that took a side chair to the hapless, average male hero). Fresh of his Lego spin-off film Batman (Will Arnett) also returns with a bigger presence, but all of the in jokes on that franchise may have been exhausted. Unikitty (Alison Brie), MetalBeard (Nick Offerman) and Benny (Charlie Day) also return, but don’t have much to do.
It’s a shame that the same writers that made the first one so solid, and were also responsible for last year’s amazing adventure Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse couldn’t recapture the same magic. Perhaps they were distracted with that film. While they overdelivered against the low expectations of the first film, the second seems to be underdelivering against higher ones and leaving a painfully average result.
My Grade – C