PG because it is animated. I can't think of anything that is too offensive in this movie, but it just feels like it should be aimed at older kids. This is all completely subjective. I know that some sections can be considered kind of scary. The plot is oddly complicated that I'm still piecing together. My son was kind of just along for the ride, but there's some heady things going on here. Also, the idea of a post-apocalypse might be a bit much for some kids. PG.
DIRECTOR: Mike Mitchell
My opening paragraph is always a gimmick to hook you and to strip away the cobwebs. But I have way too many gimmicks to grab a hold of. First of all, I'd like to apologize for breaking my own rules. I wrote a lot last week. I wrote two a day to get everything posted for the Academy Awards. To do this, I had to actually skip some movies in my list. I didn't just watch this movie. I watched it week two of its release. But the second thing I want to mention here is that I almost completely abandoned the whole blog thing today. I did so much work on the site last week that I just want to hang up the whole thing. But then there's also the fact that this is the first movie of 2019 that I'm writing about. I got to write "2019"! Weeeeeee!
Apparently, I don't have to capitalize every letter in "Lego". This is according to IMDB, so I'm going to let it go because it saves me five seconds. But The Lego Movie 2 has the problem that most sequels have. It isn't as good as the first one so thus, the world is going to disregard it. The first Lego Movie destroyed me. It shouldn't have been as good as it was. The Lego Movie 2 is probably closer to what is expected for these movies. The reason why it doesn't really work on the level as the first one is that it isn't as gutsy as the first one. The first movie created this absolutely insane template for a kids movie. It was frenetic and meta. It was aware that it was a movie about a kids' toy. To make it insane, they referenced every random Lego thing that ever existed. When the movie pulled out cameos, we were blown away. It was that thing that we got when we first saw Who Framed Roger Rabbit? or Wreck-It Ralph. There was this synergy that we really don't get very often. So when something is completely revolutionary, the sequel has a really high bar to hit. Instead, The Lego Movie 2 takes the safe path. The first movie is anything but safe. That movie is nuts. No one saw that coming. I even thought that the movie was going to be more insane than it was. I saw that trailer and saw the Mad Max style sequel and thought, "That's fantastic. What a gutsy move." But the Mad Max stuff was really just a skin for the first movie. And that's where the movie really kind of loses the lasting impression: it's just the first movie in so many moments. I don't want to say that everything is the same. We're not looking at The Force Awakens or Mary Poppins Returns. I'm looking more at Ghostbusters 2. I love every movie I just listed. But these movies aren't special compared to their predecessors because of the repetition of beats. The Lego Movie 2 keeps making references that the first movie already made. Benny still likes spaceships. "Everything is Awesome" plays through. Heck, Wyldstyle has a tie to it now. Emmett is good at building things, but the double-decker couch appears again. Callbacks can either be amazing or they can be weak. This one has the latter. I don't think any of the callbacks did anything for me. It's the new stuff that worked.
If I treat this movie as something without a high bar to reach, I think it mostly works. It's not as bad as people are making it out to be. Again, I loathe when people seethe over movies because they weren't as good as the original. The one thing, as a grown man going to see these movies, is that the story has a fun complexity to. The movie completely telegraphs some tropes on purpose, only to misdirect what the actual answer is. It's so fun to play with those ideas. I want to go into spoilers because I kind of want to discuss if the twists work and I also want to look at the morality of some of the choices going on in the movie. THE OFFICIAL SPOILER ALERT: Rex Dangervest is clearly voiced by Chris Pratt. The movie plays up such a good trope that I absolutely adore it. The movie plays with the idea that Emmett thinks that Rex doesn't exist. It's what all of the adults in the movie are thinking. Chris Pratt's voice is not even slightly different from Emmett's. If you were listening to an audio play of The Lego Movie 2, you'd not be able to differentiate between Emmett and Rex. I love it so much. Emmett's running gag that people can see Rex is just perfect because it is hack. Rex as a time-travelling version of Emmett that's a villain is way better, though. It's pretty great. Now, as a time-travel snob, I normally need to have the time travel work. But that's what's even better. We never get an explanation of how Rex time-travelled. Do you know why? Because everything that we're seeing in the Lego movies is based on a child's imagination. We should be happy that the narratives in these movies are as cohesive as they are. But there is a lot of insane stuff going on in this one as well. The reason being is that we're getting two narratives layered over each other. Remember, the story isn't one kid's story anymore. It's two stories with different intentions. It's the frustration of one person not "yes, anding..." the other person's improv. We don't know which narrative to follow. I have no idea what my kids think that The Lego Movie 2 is about. But they didn't care. I was trying to break down what was happening in whose imagination. It's weird that the story takes place over five years. That's an odd choice. I get it. The kid from the first movie grew up. When we see the real world version of Bricksberg / Icksberg, I thought that the boy's sister had destroyed Bricksberg. But apparently, the boy actually built a post-apocalyptic playset. That might not read to me. After all that had been transgressing, maybe the story is about how the boy's impulses have turned him from the good guy of the story into the bad guy. The first film is all about being able to express yourself creatively. He takes his dad's sets and rebuilds them to reflect his own personality. I like the general message of the first film, but then I also think that he should respect his dad's stuff. This rings home to me, just let it go. But the second one is that he doesn't allow his sister the same freedoms that he has earned. His sister comes down, destroys Bricksberg with her Duplo toys and he rebuilds it as Icksberg. The sister is wrong to destroy the things that he was playing with to begin with. But isn't that what he did with his father's set? He destroyed it and the adult had to learn to deal with the fact that these were just toys that should be played with. I guess that does work with the over all story. There is no real good guy / bad guy situation with the exception of Rex. Rex is interesting because he is definitely the bad guy, but only because the movie can't leave things morally complex as is. It's so odd that it is Emmett. Emmett is the most wholesome character of the bunch and imagining him as the villain is something clever. The boy is mostly at fault for being so cold to his sister when it came to playing with her. But he was also bitten when he first allowed her to play along. The boy is the bad guy. The sister is the bad guy. Rex is the bad guy. I just said that this movie had no bad guy, but really, it is actually the opposite. Everyone is the bad guy. This movie is rotten with bad guys.
There's some stuff I love and there's some stuff that I think is only okay. I like the fact that they are not beholden to any Batman mythos to tell the Lego version. But it is odd to see that The Lego Batman Movie has practically been undone by these. The Batman from The Lego Movie and The Lego Batman Movie are the same guy, right? Is there an attempt to de-canon as much of the character as possible so A) they don't step on each other's respective movies and B) so that audiences don't need to know much going into each movie? I thought that there was a moment where they loosely addressed the themes of The Lego Batman Movie. That's all well and good, but did they do my least favorite thing about sequels? Did they undo the lessons from the previous movie to excuse the events of this movie? I want characters to retain their arcs. I don't want them to go back to square one. I oddly wanted to like Tiffany Haddish's character, but she really didn't do anything for me. And this is me being really nitpicky, but what is this loosey-goosey idea of marriage? Are we back to political marriages based around ego? That's such an odd idea to have in a kids' movie. I know. That's me fighting a battle that no one is really fighting. Batman is an absurd character in this and the idea is that these are little kids playing with toys. But it is a painful arc to watch. I feel like there wasn't much to actually play with some of the characters. Metalbeard, Unikitty, and Benny had nothing to do in this movie. It's so odd because those are great characters. What they did with Batman was only so-so. It's odd. But there's some great jokes. I love the Banana man. Banana Man is my favorite by a lot. But in terms of leaving here, all I can say is that I dig the soundtrack and Banana Man. And that's fine. The quality for a decent kids movie is there. It's just not going to be my favorite thing in the world, like the first Lego Movie was. Okay, I use hyperbole. But I do hold up that the first movie is how kids' movies should be made. It's a fun time, but sometimes you want more than that. I'll probably see this movie a billion more times with my kids. But for right now, I can just say that I had a good time.
Film is great. It can challenge us. It can entertain us. It can puzzle us. It can awaken us.
Mr. H has watched an upsetting amount of movies. They bring him a level of joy that few things have achieved.