When The LEGO Movie burst onto the scene in 2014 it did so as one of that year’s biggest cinematic surprises. While it had talented people behind it, it felt like a cash-grab targeting childhood nostalgia—a feature-length commercial for a toy brand. That it turned out anywhere close to as good as it did should be viewed as something of a minor miracle, and it even carried that momentum into two spin-offs, although the quality started to dwindle off by the end of the second one of those. Now we’ve got an official sequel, The LEGO Movie 2: The Second Part, and it’s got a lot to live up to.
This one takes place five years into the future. Bricksburg has turned into post-apocalyptia and everything is decidedly not awesome. The characters we met throughout the course of the last movie have all hardened with the times in order to survive constant alien attacks which have left their city in ruins. That is, all of the characters but The Special, Emmett (voice of Chris Pratt), who is the same happy-go-lucky guy from before. Lucy (Elizabeth Banks), thinks this is a flaw and tells him to toughen up right before she and a bunch of the other characters are captured by General Sweet Mayhem (Stephanie Beatriz), who is bringing them to her totally-not-evil queen (Tiffany Haddish) in hopes of bringing “intergalactic peace.”
So, you’ve got the Hero’s Journey story you want out of Emmett, who this time gets to grow as a character—as opposed to just discovering that the Power Was Inside Him All Along—while also following Lucy and co. as they try to (1) figure out exactly what’s going to happen to them and (2) try to stop it. The dual stories work out well, converge at the right time, and then take a turn that launches the film into the thematic and emotional depth that we want. It’s very effective.
If The LEGO Movie 2 lacks something, it’s the freshness of the original. As mentioned, that came as a surprise and had low expectations that it was easily able to blow out of the water. Now we know what to expect, and we were also bombarded with two similar-feeling spin-offs in 2017, so the film would have to do something more to make us relive the awe we had half a decade ago. It doesn’t quite get there. It’s really good; it’s just missing that thing to make it feel transcendent.
It’s also not as funny. Maybe it’s just because we’ve seen lots of the visual gags already, but there just aren’t as many laughs here. It’s a more emotionally compelling journey, though, and I think it has more on its mind, so it’s not like the experience is altogether worse for it. And there are still a bunch of laughs, just not as many as the last time. It’s just that, instead of crying due to laughter, you’ll be crying because you were affected by the story. At least, that’s the idea.
The LEGO Movie 2: The Second Part is a worthy follow-up to its predecessor, even if it does lack the surprise factor that the original had going for it. It’s a movie with stronger emotional appeal and deeper themes but isn’t quite as funny—it’s a more mature experience, if you get my meaning (you will if you watch the movie). It’s a very solid movie and it’ll be enjoyable for both kids and adults of all ages.
Conclusion: The LEGO Movie 2 is a deeper and more affecting movie than its predecessor, but it feels a little stale and isn’t as funny.
Recommendation: If you like the first movie or just movies in general, The LEGO Movie 2 is something you should check out.