By The Nerdling
The Lego Movie was a surprising bit of wonderful. The film could have been simply a money grab like many films based on a product are. Instead, it was filled with heart and beautifully broke down the narrative of the “Special” or “Chosen One”. The Second Part attempted to recreate that magic. In most ways it does. Just not with that same oomph the original managed to achieve.
Five years after Bricksburg’s invasion by Planet Duplo (Legos made for younger kids) life is no longer awesome. The city changed its name to Apocalypseburg. The Master Builders are almost all gone in an attempt to defeat the invaders. No one is allowed to build anything which may be deemed “cute” to deter visitors from the Systar System. Those left have become darker, more brooding.
Except for Emmet (Chris Pratt). He remains his happy-go-lucky-self much to the chagrin of Lucy (Elizabeth Banks). She wishes her boyfriend would grow up and stare off into the distance while agonizing over his nightmare of the pending Our-Mom-Ageddon.
The end seems nigh when General Mayhem (Stephanie Beatriz) arrives and abducts Lucy, Batman (Will Arnett), Unikitty (Alison Brie), MetalBeard (Nick Offerman), and Benny (Charlie Day) to take to Queen Watevra Wa’Nabi (Tiffany Haddish) in the Systar System. Emmet journeys after his friends and receives help from Rex Dangervest (also Pratt), a chiseled, broody, raptor taming, galaxy saving adventurer. Cue all of the Chris Pratt fat-funny-guy to it-guy-action-movie-star jokes.
The Lego Movie 2 suffers from many of the issues of sequels. It has to compete with the charm of the first film. Director Mike Mitchell along with writers Phil Lord and Chris Miller think this means more. More musical numbers and meta jokes. There is a revamped version of “Everything is Awesome” titled “Everything’s Not Awesome” which manages to sum up life a little too well right now. And of course, no kid’s movie would be complete without an earworm of a song, this one aptly titled “Catch Song” (the chorus delivers on its promise of “this songs gonna get stuck inside your head”). Many of the jokes work (including the running gag of finding Bruce Willis in air ducts), but I wish they would have concentrated on the heart of the story.
And the heart of The Lego Movie 2 is how we as a society raise our young men to be. The human hero of the first film, Finn (Jadon Sand), is at that age where a kid wants to still be a kid, but is starting to feel the pressure of needing to grow up and “be a man.” This means all “cute” or “girlie” things must be inherently evil and are to be destroyed. Finn’s younger sister, Bianca (Brooklynn Prince), just wants her older brother to play with her again. She takes the heroes of his stories in hopes of engaging him.
I really love this kid’s movie is taking on the narrative of how dangerous toxic masculinity can be. A message that important will hopefully make a positive impact on the young children (and some adults) seeing the film. Properly communicating this was extra tricky considering the story is being told from two perspectives, Finn’s and Bianca’s. Then add on the fact that the Lego characters also have their own autonomy. All of this bogged down the momentum of what could have been a repeat of that magic.
With Mitchell at the helm, The Lego Movie 2 stays true to the characters Lord and Miller brought to us five years ago. While the message of the film is worthy, the movie didn’t stick the landing as well as one would hope.
The Nerdling was born in the majestic land known as Texas and currently resides there after several years of journeying through Middle Earth in a failed attempt to steal the one Ring from that annoying hobbit, serving the Galactic Empire for a time, and then a short stint as a crew member on the Serenity. Since moving back to her homeland, Nerdling flirted with a hero reputation. Saving children from the dangers of adoring domineering, sparkly vampires (champions with souls are the only vampires worth loving) and teaching normals the value of nerdom, all while rooting for her beloved Dallas Stars. Then came the Sokovia Accords and her short spell of saving others came to an end. With Darth Vader’s reputation rightfully returning to badass status, Nerdling is making her way back to the Empire. They do have cookies, you know. You can find her on Twitter and Instagram.