April 18, 2019

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Chip off the old block

Funny and smart, Lego sequel has all the awesomeness that made the first film a hit

Back in 2014, one could have reasonably anticipated the hit animated feature The Lego Movie was going to be a two-hour exercise in toy product placement aimed squarely at kids.

In fact, the movie, written and directed by Phil Lord and Christopher Miller, went well beyond those expectations in its story of how well-meaning Lego-world construction worker Emmet Brickowski (voiced by Chris Pratt) comes to realize he’s living in a totalitarian state under the leadership of genial demagogue called President Business (Will Ferrell).

It was a consistently funny adventure, but on another level, a smart satire about looking beneath doctrinaire pop culture (embodied by the classic earworm-song Everything Is Awesome).

Suffice to say: The true nature of the Lego universe was revealed in the last few minutes, culminating in the sequel set-up in which the hero’s Lego world is visited by Duplo invaders.

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Back in 2014, one could have reasonably anticipated the hit animated feature The Lego Movie was going to be a two-hour exercise in toy product placement aimed squarely at kids.

In fact, the movie, written and directed by Phil Lord and Christopher Miller, went well beyond those expectations in its story of how well-meaning Lego-world construction worker Emmet Brickowski (voiced by Chris Pratt) comes to realize he’s living in a totalitarian state under the leadership of genial demagogue called President Business (Will Ferrell).

It was a consistently funny adventure, but on another level, a smart satire about looking beneath doctrinaire pop culture (embodied by the classic earworm-song Everything Is Awesome).

The gang's all here! (Warner)

The gang's all here! (Warner)

Suffice to say: The true nature of the Lego universe was revealed in the last few minutes, culminating in the sequel set-up in which the hero’s Lego world is visited by Duplo invaders.

Five years later, we find the Lego/Duplo conflict is still raging. Of all the citizenry, only Emmet retains his unfailingly sunny disposition. Everyone else reverts to bitter-survivor mode. (Bricksburg transforms into a dystopian wasteland very much inspired by the Mad Max movies.) This is especially true of Emmet’s soulmate Lucy (a.k.a. Wyldstyle), who takes umbrage at Emmet’s unrelenting good cheer. In this world — and she has a song to prove it — everything’s not awesome.

A new invader comes calling, a Jango Fett-like warrior called Sweet Mayhem (Stephanie Beatriz) who comes from the "Systar System" to kidnap Bricksburg’s best and brightest, including Wyldstyle and Batman (Will Arnett). The latter is to be betrothed to shape-shifting Systar regent Queen Watevra Wa’Nabi (Tiffany Haddish). The Queen has a secret weapon to pacify her guests, indoctrinating them with another chirpy brainwashing ditty, the prophetically titled This Song Is Gonna Get Stuck Inside Your Head.

Rex Dangervest is in command of a cool all-dinosaur crew. (Warner)

Rex Dangervest is in command of a cool all-dinosaur crew. (Warner)

Emmet gives chase, but he can’t do it alone. Fortunately, he gets an assist from a hitherto unknown supercool hero called Rex Dangervest (also voiced by Pratt, clearly impersonating his Guardians of the Galaxy 2 co-star Kurt Russell and doing a fine job of it).

Rex is the kind of hero Emmet aspires to be. He not only pilots his own spaceship, he does so in command of an all-dinosaur crew. (Pratt seems to be taking the mickey out of the too-cool action man he plays in Jurassic World, and quite rightly.)

The identity of the antagonist, as in the first film, comes as a bit of a surprise, one that takes the movie down a convoluted plastic rabbit hole that lacks the comparatively elegant climactic reveal of the first movie. Director Mike Mitchell (whose oddball credits include Shrek Forever After and Deuce Bigalow: Male Gigolo) has more trouble sustaining the breakneck pace this time out.

Still, the sequel proves to be sufficiently funny and smart... and certainly less painful than stepping on a Lego brick.

randall.king@freepress.mb.ca

Twitter: @FreepKing

The identity of the antagonist in Lego Movie 2 comes as surprise, much like it did in the first film. (Warner)

The identity of the antagonist in Lego Movie 2 comes as surprise, much like it did in the first film. (Warner)

Randall King

Randall King
Reporter

In a way, Randall King was born into the entertainment beat.

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