Lego Movie 2: The Second Part Review

Lego Movie 2: The Second Part Review

Five years ago, The LEGO Movie took the world by storm. At a time when the animated film landscape was mostly dominated by interchangeable plots, characters, and journeys, and CGI visuals that were borderline indistinguishable, The LEGO Movie was a much-needed breath of fresh air. Not only was it smart, original, funny, and visually vibrant, it was bursting with self-awareness and meta-humor, cementing it as one of the most memorable and unique animated films of the decade. Five years later, after a couple of spin-off films, we finally get a proper sequel, and while it doesn’t reach the standards set by the original, it’s still a delightfully fun and worthy entry in the franchise.

Picking up where the last one left off, The LEGO Movie 2: The Second Part finds our LEGO characters Emmet and Lucy faced with a new threat: alien-like LEGO DUPLO creatures routinely destroying their city. When the adorable invaders take some of Emmet’s closest friends, including Lucy, he goes on a journey to the Sistar System to rescue them. Meanwhile, expanding on the live-action meta-twist from the first one, the real-life reason for this animated conflict is that Finn’s younger sister is older now and she wants to play with him in his LEGO city, which forces Finn’s imaginary world to be overrun by his younger sister’s toys. It’s an interesting way to connect the Lego world with the real world, and the film manages to balance multiple character and emotional arcs, but it suffers from a thematic disconnect between the two plots.

The LEGO Movie 2: The Second Part,  courtesy of Warner Bros.

The LEGO Movie 2: The Second Part, courtesy of Warner Bros.

In the animated world, Emmet grapples with feelings of insecurity. He wants to be more hardened, more masculine because that’s what he thinks Lucy wants him to be. This internal conflict doesn’t relate to Finn’s relationship with his sister at all, and it’s a missed opportunity to distinctly connect the two worlds and build a more cohesive and impactful thematic message. Still though, Emmet’s journey is narratively and emotionally engaging, especially when he comes across Rex Dangervest, who seems like an idealized version of himself. The dynamic between the two provides the film with the most incisive and heartfelt commentary, even it ends up feeling like pretty standard “be yourself” messaging.

The emotional moments land where they need to, but the whip-smart humor, as with the first entry, is the major draw here. The throw-everything-at-the-wall-and-see-what-sticks approach is less consistently successful here, but the jokes are rapid-fire, and there are plenty of references explicitly aimed at older audiences, so there’s never a dull moment, even if you put your LEGOs away a long time ago. I couldn’t help but be enveloped by the film’s charm like a big warm hug, and as someone who doesn’t love lengthy musical numbers (especially in a film this fast-paced), I’m surprised and delighted to say the songs are one of the film’s major highlights. Not only are they hilarious, but they’re catchy, perfectly placed, and smartly play an essential role to the plot, instead of feeling like extraneous time-fillers.

The LEGO Movie 2: The Second Part,  courtesy of Warner Bros.

The LEGO Movie 2: The Second Part, courtesy of Warner Bros.

The animation is just as dynamic and detailed, the characters are loveable, and the message is touching, but The Lego Movie 2: The Second Part can’t help but fall short of the bar set by the first film. The strict adherence to replicating what made the first one so strong is both its greatest asset and weakness. It ends up as enjoyable as the first, but by not really exploring any new territory, it, unfortunately, feels more like a victory lap rather than a solid entry in its own right.

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