Everything is good, but not quite awesome, in The LEGO Movie 2: The Second Part, a film that couldn't have possibly been as strong as its groundbreaking 2014 predecessor yet a film that is still more inspired and entertaining than a good majority of the animated feature films released these days.
The LEGO Movie 2: The Second Part is simply less. It's less groundbreaking. It's less inspired. It's less entertaining. It's less awe-inspiring. It's less, well, awesome.
That's not to say, however, that The LEGO Movie 2: The Second Part isn't a darn fine film because it is, well, a darn fine film. Most of the key ingredients from the original film return - Phil Lord and Christopher Miller wrote the film, while Mike Mitchell (Trolls) takes over directorial duties. The vocal cast? Returnees include Chris Pratt, Will Arnett, Elizabeth Banks, and Alison Brie. Tiffany Haddish is a newcomer and returns to her scene-stealing ways.
The LEGO Movie 2: The Second Part is entertaining from beginning to end, though everything here feels a little bit more familiar while the original film's closing revelation, a master stroke, feels inevitable here and this second film lacks that master stroke that will take the film from being a good one to being a great one.
Indeed, The LEGO Movie 2: The Second Part is a good film and not a great film.
Bricksburg has turned into Apocalypseburg, a dystopian wasteland where perpetual optimist Emmet (Chris Pratt) still resides with Lucy/Wyldstyle (Elizabeth Banks), Unikitty (Alison Brie) and the others even though the bright and shiny Bricksburg has been replaced by a sort of Mad Max inspired landscape that lets us know that we're in for a fair bit of action here.
Despite the more serious setting, The LEGO Movie 2: The Second Part never forgets that it's first job is to entertain the kiddoes. The Lego Movie 2: The Second Part takes up the inspired musical mantel from the first film and turns up the volume to ten with more catchy music and memorable tunes and the expected wealth of pop culture references that will demand more than one viewing to catch them all.
Trust me, parents. You'll be seeing this film more than once.
Emmit once again gets a chance to be a hero here when Apocalypseburg is invaded by those dastardly Duplos from outerspace, though Mitchell's pacing is just a bit off here and some bits, banana I'm lookin' at you, just plain fall flat...sometimes, over and over and over again.
However, The LEGO Movie 2: The Second Part is more than inspired and entertaining enough to justify catching it on the big screen. Will Arnett's Batman song truly shines, while Pratt's self-awareness is on full display here as he rips on himself and his various big screen personas. Tiffany Haddish, as Duplo Queen Watevra Wa'Nabi (say it really fast), gives us one seriously inspired, insightful villain.
Trust me, she'll be back for the third go around.
The LEGO Movie 2: The Second Part will inevitably have its haters. The story is over-stuffed and there's virtually no way it could possibly live up to the greatness of its predecessor.
And it doesn't.
Sometimes, being good is good enough and such is the case with The LEGO Movie 2: The Second Part, a film that feels familiar and is familiar yet a film that also manages to still entertain in abundance and also pulls off a refreshingly fem-centric perspective that makes it more than worth your time. With an abundance of fresh, energized vocal work and a wealth of wonderful tunes that you'll be humming as you leave the theater, The LEGO Movie 2: The Second Part is early 2019's go-to animated feature and the first film guaranteed to be on every kid's wish list this year.
Be sure to stay until the end to catch the Beck, Robyn, and The Lonely Island collaboration "Super Cool" and through the super awesome closing credits.
© Written by Richard Propes
The Independent Critic