Movie Review

The Lego Movie 2: The Second Part

CREDITS
RATING
PG

GENRE
Animation
Kids
Sci-Fi/Fantasy
Comedy
Action/Adventure

CAST
Voices of Chris Pratt as Emmet Brickowski and Rex Dangervest; Elizabeth Banks as Wyldstyle/Lucy; Will Arnett as Batman; Tiffany Haddish as Queen Watevra Wa’Nabi; Stephanie Beatriz as General Mayhem; Alison Brie as Unikitty; Nick Offerman as MetalBeard; Charlie Day as Benny; Maya Rudolph as Mom; Will Ferrell as President Business/Dad; Jadon Sand as Finn; Brooklynn Prince as Bianca

DIRECTOR
Mike Mitchell

DISTRIBUTOR
Warner Bros.

IN THEATERS
February 8, 2019

REVIEWER
Paul Asay

Movie Review
We think of LEGOS as innocent, colorful accoutrements of childhood (and, for some of us, perhaps adulthood, too). These interlocking blocks can open doors to creativity, imagination and wonder. Or, at the very least, make for some chunky Star Wars playsets.

But ask any parent who’s ever stepped on a LEGO piece in the middle of the night, and they’ll tell you the truth: LEGOS are wellsprings of pain and suffering. And perhaps it was only a matter of time before the toy’s grim existential nature caught up with that wince-inducing reality.

It’s been five years since the first LEGO Movie told us that everything was awesome. Now, not so much. Ever since it was invaded by, er, invaders from the invasive Systar system, Bricksburg has suffered mightily. No longer a bustling, happy place filled with ever-busy construction workers, superheroes and the occasional Middle-earth wizard, it now resembles a bleak dystopian wasteland: “A grittier, cooler, more mature society,” in the words of gritty, cool, multi-hue-coifed Lucy. Surfer Dave is now Chainsaw Dave. LEGO cats prowl the countryside with spikey maces attached to their tails. Forget Bricksburg: It’s Apocalypseburg these days.

And still the attacks keep coming. Pastel-colored spaceships hurl adorable-but-weaponized hearts and stars. Joy is but a memory. And hope? The foolish dross of happier days gone by. And if that wasn’t enough, Master Builder Emmet has had a nightmare/vision of a horrific future in store for all of his minifigure friends—a disaster known as Ar-mom-a-geddon, in which all creation as they know it will be destroyed at precisely 5:15, banishing them all to the terrible, dark Bin of Stor-Age.

You’d think that a nice wedding invitation would be just the thing to cheer these folks right up. And good news, that’s just what they get!

The bad news: It comes from the Systar system—direct from the blocky hand of the chimerically foreboding Queen Watevra Wa’Nabi herself.

The worse news: The wedding is scheduled for 5:15.

Weddings are supposed to be times of new beginnings—when two become one, to have and to hold, in good times and bad.

But for Emmet and Lucy, Batman and Unikitty, MetalBeard and Benny (that seriously enthusiastic space guy), the times might be very bad indeed.

Positive Elements
The first LEGO movie had a very clear moral: Don’t glue LEGOs together, you Philistine! As such, the underlying message was actually targeted at adults. Embrace your inner child and, in so doing, embrace your actual children as well. Let them play. Let them imagine. Let them explore their own creativity.

The moral of The LEGO Movie 2: The Second Part, aims a little younger. This film is, in some respects, about growing up.

Lucy hints at it from the very beginning, noting that the world is now “grittier” and “cooler.” We know from the outset that it’s five years after the original flick, and so we know that Finn (the little boy from the first movie) and his sister, Bianca (a toddler back then), are older, too. And as Finn has moved into adolescence, his LEGO creations have gotten more mature … and darker. That tension between innocent childhood and jaded adolescence and adulthood is mirrored in the LEGO world, too, where Lucy encourages the ever-optimistic, always-innocent Emmet to get darker, broodier. To get with the Apocalypseburg times, as it were. And indeed, Emmet finds a role model to help him “grow up”: the chiseled, glowering raptor trainer Rex Dangervest.

But the movie suggests that while we all have to grow up, we don’t have to grow darker or angrier. Sure, as our age soars into the double-digits, we may understand that everything isn’t awesome all of the time. But if we nurture a sense of joy and hope and, yes, childlike wonder, we can still do our part to make our imperfect world a little more awesome.

We’re also told that we really should try be nice to our younger siblings, too. It’s not always easy: As an older brother myself, I know how annoying my younger sister could be sometimes. But we can cherish each other and even play together, and pictures that run during the credits—snapshots of siblings posing with their own mutual LEGO creations—reinforce that point.

Spiritual Content
The LEGO Movie universe is predicated upon godlike beings (us) who manipulate LEGOs in perplexing, sometimes perverse ways. And LEGO 2 layers on even more mythical elements, what with its prophecies and legends and rumors of the biblically tinged end-of-all-things, Ar-mom-a-geddon.

We also hear references to some other modes of spirituality. Rex mentions that he’s been “meditating” a lot lately, and someone drops the traditional Hindu greeting “Namaste.” Queen Watevra Wa’Nabi plans to hold her wedding in what she calls a “temple,” a majestic pyramid.

Rex also drops a biblical reference into the proceedings, paraphrasing the apostle Paul as he tells Emmet to “put away his childish things.” We hear a reference to purgatory, too. A LEGO vampire hangs out in the Systar system, but he’s a non-violent, sparkly one.

Sexual Content
Batman sometimes strips the top part of his outfit off, revealing his “chiseled” LEGO torso. (He references his ripped-ness whenever the opportunity allows, and sometimes when it doesn’t.)

Watevra Wa’Nabi wants to get hitched to a particular character. And the minifigure idea of marriage idea is best captured by a phrase we hear describing spouses as “special best partners.” Emmet and Lucy also share a similarly deep level of special friendship (though it’s never said that they’re married): Emmet builds himself and Lucy a lovely little house in the middle of the LEGO wasteland, and the porch swing holds a throw pillow that reads “E & L 4EVA.”

Violent Content
A human mother steps on LEGO pieces a couple of times, and most of us know how painful that can be. (She describes it, in fact, as being just short of the pain of childbirth.)

LEGO characters are quite resilient. So while there’s a lot of mayhem, few men/women/creatures/things get seriously harmed. A LEGO banana suffers the most (ahem) bruising, often slipping on his own peel and, at one juncture, taking a mighty tumble from the top of a pyramid and into a chocolate fondue fountain. (Tasty!)

Two LEGO minifigures get into a massive physical fight. You can’t call it a fistfight, though, because they can’t make fists and their tiny arms are rather ineffectual weapons. But they do bump chests and roll around on the ground a lot, and one huge blow nearly separates the bottom half of a guy from his top half.

A minifigure fades into nothingness. LEGO characters fall from (for them) great heights. Missiles are fired with varying degrees of effectiveness. LEGO pieces get chomped and perhaps eaten. A character gets “painfully” squeezed in a gate. A couple of characters use a powerful ability to destroy the environments around them. We hear that someone’s “couchin’ for an ouchin’.”

Crude or Profane Language
We hear one use of “dang,” and someone’s referred to as a “real grumple-dumpus.”

Drug and Alcohol Content
We see some LEGO wine bottles and glasses occasionally, along with inferences that LEGO characters are quaffing the presumed liquids inside.

Other Negative Elements
LEGO minifigures are dumped in such a way that one’s rear is stuck in another’s face. We hear that a slipping banana figure keeps bruising his “butt.” MetalBeard tells us that he likes it when barnacles are cleared off his “bilgepump.”

Conclusion
In The LEGO Movie 2, not everything is awesome. But when we look at the movie itself, it comes pretty close.

At its most idealistic, this franchise celebrates the innocence and creativity of childhood—even while inserting plenty of clever asides and cameo appearances to keep moms and dads in the audience engaged and entertained.

It’s funny, too—and not just in a ha-ha sort of way (though it is that), but in how oddly layered the story is.

On its most superficial level, the interplay between the LEGO world and the “real” world doesn’t make much narrative sense. But don’t let that fool you: The meta-references and seemingly throwaway scenes that actually presage and echo throughout the movie reveal this to be a work of surprising … maturity? Can we say that about a movie that features a three-wheel unicycle?

Yes, the film does have a handful of hiccups parents should be aware of, such as shirtless Batman and jargon related to other religions. But this is not a movie that seeks to build its credentials on envelope pushing. In fact, LEGO’s movies push the opposite way, with their makers striving to prove that movies can be innocent and great and laugh-out-loud funny without all those double entendres and edgy allusions. You don’t need to take a story and make it, in Lucy’s words, grittier and cooler and more mature in order to make it relevant. Sometimes, the most important messages are the most innocent ones. Sometimes, the most poignant are the prettiest.

Dystopian worlds are all the rage these days. And this movie acknowledges that sometimes even our own world can feel pretty broken. But the latest LEGO sequel tells us that we don’t just have to break things apart: We can build things up, too. And since we can, why not build something beautiful?

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