It's been five years since we last saw Emmett, Lucy, Benny the space guy and their pals from "The Lego Movie," and time has not been kind to the citizens of Bricksburg.
An invasion of alien Duplo creatures has devastated their city, leaving a Mad Max-like wasteland of pop culture references, a dark and brooding Batman and, as always, wild Lego creations. So when aliens invade again in "The Lego Movie 2: The Second Part," the stage is set for Emmet and his friends to launch on a space adventure that's as full of madcap antics as it is Lego product placements.
Full disclosure: We're a Lego family. I grew up with the brick-building toys in the '80s and my 10-year-old daughter Zadie is slowing building her own city to life in our basement. That said, the novelty of a Lego-inspired movie has admittedly worn thin. After all, in the years since "The Lego Movie," we've seen a Lego Batman movie (with Will Arnett voicing the Dark Knight) and a Ninjago movie. So a new Lego movie has to bring something fresh to the table if it's going to push things forward. [The Awesome Space-y Building Sets of 'The Lego Movie 2'!]
Where the first "Lego Movie" was a simple metaphor for the joy of play (Lego's name, itself is a mashup of "Play Well" in Danish) and creativity between a father (Will Ferrell) and son Finn (Jadon Sand), "The Lego Movie 2" goes farther. Its message, which it wields heavy-handedly, centers around Finn and his sister Bianca (Brooklyn Prince) finding their own way to play together.
There is a bonkers joy to "The Lego Movie 2." Directed by Mike Mitchell and written by Phil Lord and Christopher Miller (who penned the original), the film returns to Bricksburg (now Apocalypseburg) to find Emmet (Chris Pratt) and Lucy/Wyldstyle (Elizabeth Banks) trying to eek out a living in the ruins of their once-fair city as Batman (Arnett again) keeps watch. Benny the 1980s space guy (Charlie Day) has a robot arm now. He runs a chop shop for "custom battle vehicles."
Emmet ultimately heads to space to find his friends, who've been abducted through the "Stairgate" by General Mayhem (Stephanie Beatriz) for some sort of space wedding with Queen Watevra Wa'Nabi (Tiffany Hadish) in the Systar System. Adventure ensues. Along the way, Emmet finds help from Rex Dangervest (also an over-the-top Pratt), a space hero so macho his spaceship is shaped like a giant fist and it's crewed by dinosaur raptors.
And there's more. Unlike the original Lego movie, this one's a musical. It has its own catchy pop song ("This song's gonna get stuck inside your head!") Also, there's time travel. In space. It's pretty wild.
And kids will love that craziness. A recurring bit about a brick-built banana (called Banarnar and voiced by Ben Schwartz) slipping on its own peel left my daughter in stitches. For grownups, a "Die Hard"-era Bruce Willis appears from time to time to say hi, because why not?
And yes, space fans, there are plenty of Lego spaceships. "And yet not nearly enough," as Benny says, and I concur. Keep your eyes peeled for the Lego Saturn V moon rocket. Spotting it brought back memories of when Zadie I built it together and is a nice nod - if unintentional - to NASA's 50th anniversary of the Apollo 11 moon landing this year. We even spotted a Disco Benny and an all-too-brief glimpse at a Space Planet. But to say more might spoil your joy.
Despite just being 6 minutes longer than the original "Lego Movie" (its running time is 1 hour, 46 minutes), "The Lego Movie 2" does drag in parts. But the film's zaniness is infectious and does deliver on its promise of a brick-building adventure of cosmic proportions. Let's not forget, it's in space. And "everything is awesome" in space.
"The Lego Movie 2" is rated PG and opens in theaters nationwide today (Feb. 8).