Thursday, August 15, 2019
Lego Watch: Lego Movie 2 - The Second Part (2019)
Format: Amazon Streaming
I just checked Box Office Mojo and if you want to weep for humanity, this movie made $190 million and Minions made over a billion dollars. I think I'm beginning to understand how we reached our current state as a people.
If you haven't seen Lego Movie 2: The Second Part (2019), it's now streaming, so now's a second chance.
With the device revealed at the finale of the first Lego Movie, and a reasonable assumption being that we understand that the adventures of the movie are in part a kid playing with Lego and in part a kid working things out - the movie is able to play a bit more with the premise.
This movie takes place five years later (it was also released five years after the first Lego movie), and we see that an invasion and repeated attacks from bizarre, cheery outside sources have left our heroes living in an edgy, dystopian world, constantly on alert.
Emmett from the first film has not really changed and remains upbeat and unfazed despite the hard-core changes all around him. Wyldstyle/ Lucy is way into her new, darker world and would like Emmett to maybe find an edge, too. Emmett has had a vision of a dolphin clock, an ice cream man and everyone disappearing into The Bin of Stoh-rage. An alien attack leads to Lucy, Batman, Unikitty, Benny and MetalBeard getting kidnapped and taken to a new planet "beyond the Stairgate".
Yeah, like I say, once you know the trick, it's kind of fun how they play with it - it's more about the pieces coming together (so to speak).
There's quite a bit about Emmett learning about this other world of little girl Legos and thinking something evil is afoot that works pretty well vis-a-vis the skepticism of new versions of Lego usually pitched as non-gendered or for boys - mixed with the difference in play of a young girl versus a boy in middle school. And, finding a guy he thinks is super cool and edgy and whatnot who is what Emmett thinks he should be.
I will say, I found the messaging of the film a bit more muddled than the first movie. Yeah, yeah, siblings should play well together. But when the film is about, essentially, one sibling repeatedly seeking the attention of an older sibling by messing with and taking their stuff (when this family appears pretty wealthy and the younger kid has no lack of space or lack of her own Lego to play with), it's kind of... weird that the movie doesn't really give the Mom (Maya Rudolph) a chance to talk to each kid - like "hey, stop stealing your brother's stuff", or "look, find some of your stuff and use it to play with your sister." Instead, Mom just decides Lego is the problem and makes them put it away.
I do agree with the movie's message that there's more value to being kind and seeking to give others joy than dwelling in broody adolescence. But the kid is also, like, what? 13? Sure, as adults we get it, and we want our kids to get along, but that moodiness is part of the maturation process, not something to be short-circuited. There's a real question of what, exactly, Emmett would have learned by *not* becoming Rex and just carrying on. There is a difference between moving on beyond edge-lordiness vs. staying in a state of pre-adolescence. And I'm not sure the movie does a great job of sorting that out for Emmett as well as it does for Lucy/ Wyldstyle.
Ie: there's a reading of the movie that their solution is "the boy should remember not to be a moody teen and should give that up to play with the much younger sibling on her terms". I know parents want their kids to get along and watching kids grow up is hard/ that kid might lose interest in Lego soon, anyway, but it felt more like parental wish fulfillment than anything (the kids figure it out on their own! I don't have to yell! The boy isn't doing eye-rolly stuff!), and that's a weird ending.
I know. I don't have kids, I don't understand. But I do have the wisdom of Solomon, so... I'm just saying: you are all bad parents.
Despite all that, it's a fun movie and brilliantly designed and choreographed. I'm in awe of how Lego animation works - it's not just lines and color - they need to be able to build everything you see on screen. I'm sure there's a system that works it out for them, or at least I hope there is. All I know is that it's mind-boggling to watch.
Speaking of, the sequel also added some great voice talent, including Tiffany Haddish as the constantly shifting alien queen, and Stephanie Beatriz as General Mayhem - both of whom sing in the film. And, this being a second Lego movie, it also has some knowingly insistent pop tunes and a collaboration between Beck, Robyn and Lonely Island.
If the movie didn't do well - honestly, like a lot of stuff that comes out these days, I just didn't feel motivated to leave the house to see it. Between knowing I'd be able to catch it on home video (as I did) and the fact there's been now three theatrical Lego movies and a thousand for-homevideo Lego movies of all stripes, I dunno.
But now that it's out, it's worth checking out. It really is funny, has some great Lord & Miller type humor and never feels dull for a second. I may not be onboard with how the movie wraps, exactly, but I'm also maybe not who this movie was aimed at. And, yes, I know parenting is way harder than not parenting.