The Lego Movie 2: The Second Part movie review – Toy story allegory

The LEGO Movie was a monumental masterpiece of what filmmakers could do with animation, with a product tie-in, and with satire. Writers Phil Lord and Chris Miller begin The LEGO Movie 2 there and take the possibilities into exponentialy more clever territory. (But it assumes you’ve seen the first movie, so spoiler alert.)

Now that the secret’s out that there is live-action in LEGO movies, we get glimpses of the human kids narrating the story. It’s just enough that the viewer can try to piece together what’s really going on in Finn (Jadon Sand)’s house while Emmet (Chris Pratt) and the gang are on their animated adventure.

The theme of The LEGO Movie was “Play with your kids.” The theme of LEGO Movie 2 is “Play with your siblings” which becomes inherently more complex. 

Arguments like “You started it” are familiar to anyone with siblings, but hopefully with maturity we grow to realize it doesn’t matter who started it. Once it’s started, you have to find a way to play together harmoniously. That usually falls to the older sibling to make it work. 

So Bianca (Brooklynn Prince)’s toy Whatevra Wa’Nabi (Tiffany Haddish) wants to marry Batman (Will Arnett). That seems like such a little sister plan. If she makes her brother’s toy marry hers, then he’ll HAVE to play with her!

Wa’nabi is not related to the African tribe in The Air Up There. She’s whatever she wants to be, get it? Her transformations are a marvel with remarkable animation that flows smoothly between all the different shapes she takes.

Siblings stealing your toys also opens up new story possibilities. Who hasn’t fought over their toys with their siblings? Now we can imagine what adventures our toys had trying to escape our sister’s room.

LEGO Movie 2 becomes a warning against toxic masculinity, because it’s Finn’s journey of maturity. He is in danger of embracing cynicism and pessimism, as reflected in Wildstyle (Elizabeth Banks) and Rex Dangervest (Pratt in a double role) trying to teach Emmet to toughen up.

Of course, toxic masculinity is my reading. It’s all in palatable child’s play terms, which will hopefully be more effective in teaching impressionable children to play together, that cynicism isn’t cool and that maturity can still be awesome. 

You’ll probably figure out clues like Ourmomageddon but there’s such a complex meta story going on, there will still be some surprising wrinkles. The jokes are also so quick that it’s impossible to catch them all the first time.

You’ll have to see The LEGO Movie 2 again to get all the jokes and clues. Some are probably even impossible to catch in theaters, so will require pausing and rewinding on home video. 

There’s all new clever action with a mess of destroyed LEGO builds and Duplo hearts destroying the world with adorable baby voices. There’s clever wordplay the way children mix up grownup words. They call out all the metaphors but in ways that are still over kids’ heads. 

Celebrity cameos are surprising and nail the celebrities’ personas. Director Mike Mitchell and animators also embrace pure slapstick. Banarnar (Ben Schwartz) is literally every banana peel joke updated for 2019. 

There is a lot more music in The LEGO Movie 2. Everything is Awesome remains the, well, awesomest but that Catchy Song they released early has a deeper context in the actual movie. Other, less publicized songs, are equally catchy and will make a good soundtrack.

It seems like The LEGO Movie 2 has matured along with the kids who’ve grown up five years since the first movie. Yet it also represents the young kids who were born after the first movie.

Toddlers can watch the LEGO Movies back to back and get something out of them. Older kids and adults can get a little more self-reflexive, and those toddlers will grow up to appreciate the messages of LEGO Movie 2 when they wrestle with maturity.

Wow, in addition to the sophisticated narrative metaphors of The LEGO Movie 2, this franchise is becoming a sort of Neverending Story where it keeps addressing viewers at different stages of their lives, and gets in on the ground floor with kids at the beginning of their lives. Everything about it is awesome.

The LEGO Movie 2: The Second Part is in theaters February 2.

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