(In French, In Theaters, February 2019) Considering the unexpected, almost miraculous success of 2013’s The Lego Movie, it’s not such a surprise that the inevitable sequel would turn out to be far closer to the average. Unable, almost by design, to recapture the lightning-in-a-bottle nature of the first film, The Lego Movie 2: The Second Part nonetheless manages to turn out a pretty good family film, poking and prodding at as many narrative tropes as the first one, except without the element of conceptual surprise. Moving forward in time, our kid protagonist has become a Teen Fan of Lego more interested in radical postapocalyptic builds, and his Duplo-loving sister has become more ambitious in girly minidoll creations. This sequel tackles sibling rivalry, clash between styles of Lego play and certainly toys with the idea of an imaginary doppelganger. Once again, the plot is more than complemented by complex fantastic visuals, whether it’s the post-apocalyptic Bricksburg, the expansive Sistar system or another bout of animated/live-action integration. There’s a lot of fun here both for kids and adults (“Now I understand Radiohead”), as well as a message of family reconciliation and collaboration. As a confirmed Lego fan, I can testify that the density of specialized Lego jokes here isn’t as impressive than the first film, even if the result is decent. A handful of bouncy songs helps, as does a Maya Rudolph live-action cameo. Of course, what this Second Part doesn’t have is the novelty effect—in between the two mainline Lego movies, we’ve had a fairly decent Batman film, and a rather average Ninjago one released the same year. That was a bit too much for such a distinctive property, and now we’re faced with an extended drought of Lego movies. Too bad—I rather liked them.
(On Blu-ray, December 2019) A second viewing at home doesn’t do much to make The Lego Movie 2: The Second Part better or worse—it’s pretty much what I remembered, and what it presents itself to be. The jokes are funny, the character evolution is satisfying, the real world interacts just fine while the animated segments and the Lego creations are eye-popping. Nothing wrong here, but nothing new either.