Everything’s Not Awesome in The Lego Movie 2, and It’s Awesome
It comes with another "Catchy Song," too.
(SPOT.ph) The Lego Movie broke new ground five years ago with a self-parodying meta take on the iconic toy line, even spawning several spinoffs utilizing the same stop-motion style CGI animation. Five years later, The Lego Movie 2: The Second Part picks up where the first film left off, where creatures from the world of Duplo, Lego’s line for toddlers, come to invade Bricksburg. The short intro bridges the first and second films and we fast forward to the present, where Bricksburg has turned into a post-apocalyptic wasteland reminiscent of Mad Max called Apocalypseburg.
The residents of the erstwhile happy and awesome brick city have become grim and excessively broody, transformed into dystopian punk versions of themselves. Even Lego Batman (voiced by Will Arnett) sports spaulders fashioned from rubber tires, keeping watch against foreign invaders from inside his cavernous stronghold. Indefatigable Emmet (Chris Pratt) remains the only cheery, if somewhat naive holdout, pushing even Lucy a.k.a. Wyldstyle (Elizabeth Banks) to exhaustion. Sure enough, an unstoppable invader comes in the form of General Mayhem (Stephanie Beatriz), whose sticker-shooting blaster overcomes the hapless minifigure heroes, and she shanghais them off to the mysterious Systar System. Except for Emmet, that is, whom General Mayhem scanned and found to be perfectly ordinary.
Things are dire in Apocalypseburg, and definitely not awesome. The Lego Movie 2 shakes up the status quo after the first film taught us that you don’t always have to follow the instruction sheet. The first film’s villain Lord Business (a cameo by Will Ferrell) has been vanquished to the golf courses and there are no instructions for Emmet on how to rescue his friends. The sequel is helmed by Mike Mitchell (Trolls) and written by Phil Lord and Christopher Miller, the pair who directed the first Lego Movie. Recapturing the magic of the original is a tall order, especially after a slew of films set in the world of plastic bricks, but the sequel manages to shine with its own charm and a new lesson.
If the first film was about free play and thinking outside the box, the sequel is about cooperative play and growth. These are the core values reflected by the toy itself, which encourages creativity and collaboration. The hugely self-aware humor is still there, including some pretty meta sequences set in the real world, and Lego even manages to poke fun at itself with the infamous hazard bricks pose to bare feet.
Sweet Mayhem is an envoy for the amorphous Queen Watevra Wan’abi (Tiffany Haddish), who professes to be completely not evil with an absolutely wonderful but somewhat dubious song number. If the first film gave us the earworm "Everything is Awesome," the sequel ups the ante with the irritatingly catchy "Catchy Song" and a revision of the Lego anthem more fitting for the bleak fate awaiting our plastic heroes, "Everything’s Not Awesome." The aforementioned "Not Evil" self-introduction might even be the best of the bunch, perhaps almost as good as Jemaine Clement’s "Shiny" in Moana, and certainly just as clever. It’s a soundtrack parents need to brace themselves for because kids will be asking for the songs on repeat.
The Lego Movie 2 builds upon a conflict all too familiar to parents with several children and fashions out of it a fun and at times convoluted adventure that mixes in blaster-wielding velociraptors, time travel, and fist-shaped spaceships with the usual shenanigans from the last film. Batman continues to be the butt of jokes, and Warner Bros. finds humor in continually referencing its variably successful slate of live-action films. The Justice League does cameos, including the newest blockbuster hero Aquaman, voiced by Jason Momoa himself.
In many ways, the follow-up is better than the first, though it sadly suffers from fatigue over the Lego aesthetic and the loss of its novelty. The new story infuses more of the world outside the plastic and becomes a story not just about Emmet and his friends but about the players behind them. It’s sweet and tender, with memorable songs and a fundamental lesson that should apply to adults about as much as it does children. If we don’t share our resources, if we don’t play together well, we only hasten the end of the world as we know it. Luckily for us, the grimness of this message is sugar-coated in shiny, glittery plastic. There’s even an understated jab against toxic masculinity, with Emmet’s cheeriness and optimism a contrast to society’s expected masculine behavior, and framed positively.
The Lego Movie 2 is a treat the whole family will enjoy on many levels, with the caveat being that it might spur a trip to the toy store afterwards, and a loop of the soundtrack on the way home. And possibly for many days to come.
Rating: 4 out of 5 Spots
The Lego Movie opens in cinemas on February 13.
Photos courtesy of Warner Bros. Pictures