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The LEGO Movie 2: The Second Part **

It’s amusing for older kids and adults, and the self-aware humor is welcome, but the franchise is losing its luster. 

Is it worth $10? No 

“The LEGO Movie” (2014) was a breath of animated fresh air, a self-aware surprise that was appealing to kids and adults alike. After mixed results for two spinoffs (both “The LEGO Batman Movie” and “The LEGO Ninjago Movie” were released in 2017), here we are with “The LEGO Movie 2: The Second Part,” a sequel that’s as plain and uninspired as its title.

Set five years after the original, the Warner Animation Group film follows evil invaders from the Systar System who’ve destroyed our hero Emmet’s (voice of Chris Pratt) home of Bricksburg. It’s so desolate that it (intentionally) looks like the dystopian wasteland of “Mad Max: Fury Road.” Emmet believes he can reason with the Systar leader, General Mayhem (voice of Stephanie Beatriz), but to no avail. If he can’t stop Mayhem, “Ar-mom-ageddon” is inevitable. Worse, Mayhem kidnaps Emmet’s friends Batman (voice of Will Arnett), Lucy (voice of Elizabeth Banks), Benny (voice of Charlie Day), MetalBeard (voice of Nick Offerman) and Unikitty (voice of Alison Brie), and intends to force Batman to marry her shape-shifting queen, Watevra Wa’Nabi (voice of Tiffany Haddish).



Those who saw the 2014 original know the movie’s events occurred within the LEGO set of a real-life boy named Finn (Jaron Sand), whose father (Will Ferrell) turned out to be the villain for not spending enough time with him. Now Finn has a sister, Bianca (Brooklynn Prince). She’s been stealing and breaking his LEGOs, so they fight all the time, which means their mother (Maya Rudolph) will get rid of the LEGOs for good if they don’t cut it out. One look at the names “Systar System” and “Ar-mom-ageddon” makes it clear the parallels between real life and animated events again have a connection, though director Mike Mitchell should do more to suggest much of what we see is in Finn’s imagination.

One of the delights of the “LEGO” films is their cheerful optimism coupled with self-aware humor. That’s all here once again, but with less success. Sure it’s amusing to hear Batman talk about desired solitude, but it’s stale when we had an entire movie full of those jokes two years ago. Similarly, it was cute the first time we saw Superman (voice of Channing Tatum) and other Justice League members pick on Green Lantern (voice of Jonah Hill), but now it feels old. Not even a few surprising cameos (Ruth Bader Ginsburg!) can salvage how rote this feels.

Sadly, the pieces of the “LEGO” movies have gotten old and no longer fit together. I guess it’s hard to LEGO of something that’s worked so well for you. Or maybe “The LEGO Movie 2: The Second Part” is just missing a few blocks. At least you can still derive moderate enjoyment from it, even if you know how much better it once was.

Did you know?
The film was originally planned for release in 2017, but was pushed back due to the spinoffs and competing animated films.

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