The nonsensically repetitive title, “The Lego Movie 2: The Second Part” would be much more descriptive if it were “The Lego Movie: The Worse Part.” The worst part of the first movie is what comes to the fore in the second one, unfortunately.
Everything worked in “The Lego Movie,” in which writer/directors Phil Lord and Christopher Miller expertly blended quirky comedy, a kindhearted hero and a sweet story about family with a little bit of action for a close-to-perfect movie. The ingredients were similar in “The Lego Batman Movie,” but the mix didn’t work as well in a film that was far too explosion-based.
That’s even more true of the frenetic “The Second Part,” which skitters from action scene to action scene with such haste that before you’ve even registered what’s happening in one space chase, the movie is already onto the next one.
It begins with an ingenious notion: The kid who played with Legos in the first movie has grown up just enough to be crabby when his little sister wants to play alongside him with her Duplos, the younger-kid version of Legos. So it’s a battle between the two toys. Clever, right?
But just as that notion is sinking in, “The Second Part” shifts to a post-apocalyptic, “Mad Max”-influenced Lego world, and then it shifts again to some other world where Tiffany Haddish voices a manic, Duplo lovebot, and then we jump into yet another world where Ralph Fiennes is a scary vampire leader of a Scientology-like cult, and then we end up in some other world that seems to be a critique of Goth culture.
There’s fun stuff in there for sure, including a self-referential acknowledgment that the first movie’s theme song, “Everything Is Awesome,” was irritating as all get-out, as well as the inevitable image of Legos doing that flossing dance and a good-sport cameo by — of all the people you might suspect are not, in fact, good sports — Bruce Willis.
There’s even a brief nod to “Fight Club,” which is amusing but which was also the point where I felt like the movie crossed the line from appealing to both adults and children to not appealing to either of them a fair amount of the time. (One sign that the dialogue hasn’t nailed the balance is that it’s often based in the sort of things kids say, like “Real mature!,” acknowledging that what we’re seeing originated in a kids’ playroom, but there’s also a lot of dialogue that no one under about 35 could create.).
I’m being harder on “The Second Part” than I mean to. The Chris Pratt/Elizabeth Banks duo remains a very appealing protagonist pair, the movie doesn’t take itself too seriously, the sheer volume of non sequitur cameos is astonishing and the moral is another sweet one.
But when I saw the first “Lego” movie, I remember spending some of the time wondering if it was actually made with Legos and stop-motion animation. This one lacks that distinctive look. Most of the time, the filmmakers don’t seem to have cared about maintaining the illusion that everything was created with Legos — which is an apt metaphor for “The Second Part,” where some of the magic is gone.