Family Movie Review: The Lego Movie 2: The Second Part (PG)

'The Lego Movie 2' is visually exciting but slightly less funny for this 'Second Part.'

Kernel Rating: 3 (3 out of 5)

MPAA Rating: PG              Length: 107 minutes

Age Appropriate For: 10+. This sequel to 2014's 'The Lego Movie' moves the narrative forward five years, and that gap of time means that older children, now tweens, are the intended audience for this film. Sibling rivalry and "growing too adult" to play with toys are core plot concepts, and the movie attempts to connect to a slightly older audience with that messaging. There is romantic tension between the two main characters from the first film and discussions about moving in together; an early romantic relationship between Batman and another character, who plans a wedding ceremony for them; and discussions about feeling lost, forgotten, or inadequate for your friends, in particular regarding how young boys might not feel masculine or tough enough. Some frightening moments for younger viewers might include the destruction of a city and the Lego universe being taken apart; there are also some fighting and martial arts scenes, some explosions, characters use guns, missiles, and other weapons, and both Lego and human characters sometimes insult and make fun of each other. 

By Roxana Hadadi

At what age should children start "growing up"? That is the question at the heart of "The Lego Movie 2: The Second Part," the first direct sequel to the groundbreaking "The Lego Movie." In the years since that first film in this franchise, we've received spinoffs about Batman and Ninjago characters, but those were forays into slightly overlapping universes. "The Second Part" directly picks up where the first film ended, and the movie re-explores some of the first film's ideas, but now with a slightly older, more mature point of view.

TheLegoMovie2TheSecondPart ChesapeakeFamilyMovieReview2What if everything isn't awesome? How to be positive in the face of hardship? "The Second Part" is less unique and less funny than its predecessor, but it's commendable that the movie is considering questions that fans of the original film, who are now five years older, may be wondering as they grow older. Children who loved the first film may be tweens or even early teens now, and their experiences growing up may put a different spin on how they look at playing with toys, and Lego blocks in particular.

"The Second Part" navigates those issues (while, of course, serving as a very long commercial for buying Legos, so be aware of the consumerism on display here), and for parents and relatives, there are conversation-starters throughout the film that can be brought up with younger viewers after. How do young viewers think people change and grow? How do they think they have in the five years since the first film came out? Do they prefer the hopefulness of Master Builder Emmet (voiced by Chris Pratt, of "Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom"), or the practical nature of his "special best friend," Lucy, also known as Wyldstyle (voiced by Elizabeth Banks, of "Pitch Perfect 3")?

The contrasting worldviews between those two characters is again the focus of "The Second Part," which returns to the Lego world we know -- but things have drastically changed. The alien Duplo beings who arrived at the end of "The Lego Movie" are constantly destroying Bricksburg, and one day, a representative of their race, General Mayhem (voiced by Stephanie Beatriz), arrives to invite five "leaders" of the city to a wedding ceremony on her planet.

Is this a trick? Lucy thinks so, especially after she, Batman (voiced by Will Arnett, of "Show Dogs"), and a few other characters are whisked away. Left behind and deemed unsuitably tough to be a leader, Emmet decides to change himself to be more of what Lucy wants -- so he transforms the home he built for them into a spaceship and sets off for the Systar System. But while separated, each character realizes that they may be a little wrong about some things. Emmet's trusting nature leads him into a friendship with the adventurer Rex Dangervest, whose motivations to help Emmet may not be sincere. And in the Systar System, Lucy immediately distrusts Queen Watevra Wa'Nabi (voiced by Tiffany Haddish), but what if her feelings for Batman -- who she decides she is going to marry -- are genuine?

Parents and older viewers may recognize that the story beats are a little similar to the preceding film, and there are many jokes and references here that probably won't land for younger viewers, about the '80s movie "Back to the Future," the sci-fi classic "2001: A Space Odyssey," and the rock band Radiohead. All of that will fly over most kids' heads, as will Queen Watevra Wa-Nabi's reverse-psychology song about not wanting to date guys from Gotham (her rejection of Batman makes him fall for her, naturally). Including all that, there is a surprising amount of material in "The Second Act" that may be outside of the realm of understanding for the children watching this film. But the Lego animation style remains visually exciting and artistically layered, from action scenes to musical numbers, so keeping viewers' attention shouldn't be a problem.

Overall, "The Lego Movie: The Second Part" experiences the same issues exhibited by so many sequels to successful, groundbreaking films: How to live up to the first movie while also doing enough to be effectively different? "The Second Part" sets itself apart with an acknowledgment that its audience has grown up while maintaining the zany touches -- like an all-raptor space crew, a talking ice cream cone, and a "Mad Max"-style city made of Legos -- that gave this entire concept such creative freshness.

 Interested in a previously released film? Read our reviews of films already showing in your local theater.   

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