The LEGO Movie 2: The Second Part

The LEGO Movie defied all expectations by being much more than just an extended commercial for the popular building blocks. It told a story that tapped directly into the sense of imagination and creativity that is a fundamental draw of the toys. The LEGO Batman Movie and, to a lesser extent, The LEGO Ninjago Movie did likewise. The LEGO Movie 2: The Second Part is the formal sequel, and if it falls slightly victim to the typical pressure to go “bigger,” that's okay, because where the story takes us contains an important ring of truth.

The plot finds Bricksburg largely destroyed by LEGO Duplo invaders. (For the uninitiated, Duplo blocks are designed for younger kids.) A Duplo army arrives and takes hostage a few important residents of the town, including Wildstyle (Elizabeth Banks) and Batman (Will Arnett). They're ushered off to another planet whose leader, Queen Watevra Wa'Nabi (Tiffany Haddish), professes to be benevolent. Wildstyle believes otherwise. Meanwhile, Emmet (Chris Pratt) races to rescue his friends, with the help of a new ally named Rex Dangervest.

The LEGO Movie 2 feels a little over-stuffed in the early going. Whereas the original began by exploring the idea of a whole city made of the plastic bricks and the way of life of its citizens, the sequel jumps right into the mayhem. There's a lot of stuff thrown at you very quickly – action scenes, character additions, Emmet's visions of catastrophe, and so on.

Then the film starts to settle into a vibe. As with the original, the tale of Emmet and friends is symbolic of play happening in the real world. Without giving anything away, there's a whole theme of rivalry between children of different ages. Hints are dropped along the way, then, in the final half hour, The LEGO Movie 2 digs in, providing an insightful message to young viewers about the value of getting along. The way it's carried out is touching.

Elsewhere, the sequel maintains the visual appeal of the first LEGO adventure. New worlds created for the movie are clever, especially the decimated Bricksburg, which is dubbed “Apocalypseburg” and resembles something out of Mad Max: Fury Road. Easter eggs and in-jokes abound, the most hilarious of which might be the presence of a certain A-list star who takes part in a terrific joke related to his most well-known film. Laughs come frequently in The LEGO Movie 2, thanks to a witty screenplay from Phil Lord and Christopher Miller.

All the actors are once again perfectly cast, with Tiffany Haddish being a particularly nice addition. Several new songs – including "Super Cool" by Beck feat. Robyn, and the Lonely Island – give “Everything Is Awesome” a run for its money, and the animation is stellar. These elements work together to generate non-stop fun.

The LEGO Movie 2: The Second Part isn't quite as good as its predecessor, but it's close enough to provide a great time for LEGO enthusiasts of all ages.

out of four

The LEGO Movie 2: The Second Part is rated PG for some rude humor. The running time is 1 hour and 46 minutes.