Everything is Average: “The Lego Movie 2” lacks the pieces that made the first so special

Illustration by Emely Pascual

Brandon Shillingford, Contributing Writer

“The Lego Movie 2: The Second Part” sequels one of the most beloved and critically acclaimed animated films of the last five years, as well as a string of Lego film spin-offs. And while the newest installment is amusing and sometimes ambitious, it feels like a two-hour Lego advertisement.

The sequel to 2014’s “The Lego Movie” continues the story of Emmet who must rescue his girlfriend Lucy, voiced by Elizabeth Banks, after she is kidnapped by the evil Queen, Tiffany Haddish’s Watevra Wa-Nabi. Emmet, voiced by Chris Pratt, is accompanied by his friends, comprised of a returning star-studded cast — including Will Arnett, Alison Brie and Nick Offerman — in a quest to save Lucy and stop the impending catastrophe, “Ar-mom-ageddon” that threatens to end their world.

There are multiple points between the catchy songs, buoyant performances and stellar animation when the film feels like it could have a more meaningful conclusion. But because of a weak narrative and a confusing third act, the movie ends up leading the viewer to a much more muddled and underwhelming climax than expected.

Don’t get me wrong, “The Lego Movie 2” isn’t a bad movie. The first act impresses and has some of my favorite jokes from any of the previous Lego films. The film’s first half-hour makes it seem like it will give its predecessor a run for its money. But the rest, like most sequels, simply doesn’t justify its own existence. “The Lego Movie 2” doesn’t build on any of the characters’ relationships or motivations from the first — many of them just repeat the same arcs as the first time around.

The first Lego movie was a bold artistic statement with an exceptional sense of humor and self-awareness, and it had a clear set of goals. It completely blindsided and absolutely dumbfounded audiences, but it was OK because it was outstanding.

The second carries many of the same qualities with a sparkling script from producers Phil Lord and Chris Miller, who returned from the first to co-write, but not direct, the sequel. The incredibly charming cast and its sharp sense of humor still reside, but this film falters in its lack of direction.

The “Lego Movie 2” tries hard to regain that remarkable spark from the first film. It proves entertaining in its execution and attempts to intelligently tell a story, which automatically makes it better than most modern animated films. But the film’s insistence on following formula and avoiding meaningful risks makes it a disappointing entry into a franchise that is quickly losing steam. Everything is indeed, not awesome.

“The Lego Movie 2: The Second Part” releases Feb. 8.

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