New from Every Movie Has a Lesson by Don Shanahan: MOVIE REVIEW: The LEGO Movie 2: The Second Part

(Image: mymotherlode.com)

(Image: mymotherlode.com)

THE LEGO MOVIE 2: THE SECOND PART— 4 STARS

Just about every other second of 2014’s The LEGO Movie made sure to keep reminding us the boundless expanse of extraordinariness. That silly and wrongfully Oscar-snubbed adventure lived up the lyrics of its inescapable theme song. I don’t even have to name it because you’re already hearing it and singing it under your breath. After a runaway success like that, most studios making kiddie sequels would maintain that tone and message for all it’s worth. That’s not happening here with The LEGO Movie 2: The Second Part.

LESSON #1: CHANGE IS GOOD AND INEVITABLE, SO PRACTICE DEALING WITH IT — Let the metaphors begin. With characters beginning to admit that everything is NOT awesome, this sequel goes out of its way to modify and evolve its original diametric lessons of creativity coexisting with conformity. The new universal hurdle presented is the allowance and acceptance of change. Matching the classic plastic building toys themselves, reinvention is as easy and frequent as the twist of one of their rainbow-hued blocks if one is prepared for it. Projecting that life’s simplicity through its dazzling style of presentation, The LEGO Movie 2: The Second Part is another sparkling escapade of accepting and approachable entertainment.

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Opening mere seconds after the conclusion of the first film, the victorious Master Builders, led by Emmet Brickowski (Chris Pratt), Wyldstyle (Elizabeth Banks), and Batman (Will Arnett) are faced with the arrival of cute Duplo LEGO monstrosities. Anything cuddly quickly becomes imposing as their lumpy forms and nearly unintelligible presences prove thicker and virtually indestructible to our heroes’ attacks. These alien harbingers signal the arrival of our live-action human boy’s little sister who wants her turn with the toys.

LESSON #2: SIBLING ACCORD — This, boys and girls, is how “sharing” starts and we have all been there. Following the massaging entertainment goal of Lesson #1, these 107 minutes are a thinly veiled and appropriate plea for tykes to get along. This particular takeaway will earn the approval of both the parents that try to have heart-to-heart long talks on the topic of family unity and the ones who’ve had enough and bark out those demands while looking for their pants.

With that, the movie skips ahead five years to our current present day. The formerly boyish Finn (a returning Jaron Sand) has aged into a teenager playing with his LEGOs less and less, which has allowed his eager elementary sister Bianca (The Florida Project’s starlet Brooklynn Prince), to poach some of Bricksburg’s heroes up the “Stair-Gate” to the “Systar System.” The invader staging these glittery and heart-shaped projectile attacks is mini-doll General Sweet Mayhem (Brooklyn Nine-Nine’s Stephanie Beatriz). Symbolically, the vast former basement metropolis has devolved into the dusty, desolate, and still-trendy wasteland “Apocalypseburg” (eat your heart out, George Miller).

Naturally, the one plucky protagonist who has not let these five years of anguish rattle him one brick is Emmet. His only structural weak points are recurring prophetic dreams of “Ar-mom-ageddon” and the “Bin of Stor-age,” two humorously looming ideals that stand as proof series writers Christopher Miller and Phil Lord had the right kind of threatening mothers growing up. Anyhow, when the latest Mayhem attack captures Batman, Wyldstyle and Emmet are split up in rescue pursuit. Wyldstyle encounters the shape-shifting Queen Watevra Wa-Nabi (Tiffany Haddish), the true ruling puppeteer of the Systar System. Emmet finds a potential ally in the form of rogue adventurer Rex Dangervest (also voiced by Pratt).

LESSON #3: HOW TO BROOD — Rex is more than powerful new buddy. He’s an engine of character building to spur our meek Emmet to grown up. One of his many lessons is how mature dudes use brooding sessions to stare off and ponder those changes they’re probably avoiding about life from Lesson #1. Being able to laugh here also reminds how coping comes in many forms and brooding is one of them when done right.

LESSON #4: THE RANGE OF DESCRIPTIVE ADJECTIVES — The LEGO Movie 2: The Second Part is also a playful vocabulary lesson. The right description or label can be everything. The subtle alphabetical and phonetic differences between words pairs like sinister and sincere and terrifying and terrific are indicative of the wildly fluid story sequence of this movie.

Extending that last lesson, The LEGO Movie 2: The Second Part is a parade of entertaining animation surprises to go with all the underlying human complexion construction at work. Trolls director Mike Mitchell was brought in to follow Miller and Lord’s lead and does so quite ably. Earning a bigger budget this second time around, the proceedings do get more than a little inflated, manic, and unfocused every so often. Nonetheless, the technology recreating the low-tech shapes and surfaces of LEGOs and launching them with zany movement through deftly imagined settings has only gotten better and sharper in last five years. You will need a pause button and a magnifying glass six months from now when it lands on home media to catch every detail and cameo.

Lastly, a tremendous part of the energy comes from the music. Former Devo rocker turned film composer Mark Mothersbaugh scribed a fleet and bouncy musical score to choreograph all the dalliances and dangers. If the overarching nuggets of spoken messages don’t hang around with you after the available IMAX and 3D theater experiences, the songs certainly will. Parents soon to be transitioning between hitting the skip button or turning up the toe-tapping on new tunes like “Catchy Song” have multi-talented actor/entertainer Jon Lajoie (best known as Taco from FX’s The League) to thank for the new earworms invading your brain.

LOGO DESIGNED BY MEENTS ILLUSTRATED (#757)

LOGO DESIGNED BY MEENTS ILLUSTRATED (#757)

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