For a brief time in 2014, you couldn’t throw a plastic brick without it landing on someone singing ‘Everything Is Awesome’, the absurdly catchy song at the centrepiece of The Lego Movie. Sugary and energetic but also witty and ironic, it whittled all of the achievements of that expectation-defying movie down to two minutes and 43 seconds of earwormy joy. Fitting, then, that The Lego Movie 2: The Second Part has its own catchy song, and that that song should be called ‘Catchy Song’, with the recurring lyric: “This song’s gonna get stuck inside your head.”
That’s pretty indicative of this hugely fun sequel, which provides a similar offering to the first film. But if you’re going to repeat yourself, you might as well repeat yourself on a giddy, subversive, hilarious treat. This is the unofficial house style laid down by Phil Lord and Chris Miller, the excellent team whose sharp talents yielded Cloudy With A Chance Of Meatballs, 21 Jump Street, and the award-winning Into The Spider-Verse.
Some of the wildest, most surreal jokes you’ll find in any movie.
The duo are only writers/producers here, but their fingerprints are all over it. Unlike other animation studios, which largely feel beholden to mass-market family appeal, the Lord/Miller school favours a decent proportion of ideas, plot contrivances and comedy that only grown-ups would understand. So there are gags about future Batman movies in “various stages of development”, a knowing prod at the lead actor’s billion-dollar side career, and even a self-deprecating acknowledgement that the first film could have treated its female characters better.
The plot itself is relatively slight, again concerning evil outsiders threatening the Lego homeland, with the same motley band of figurines now fighting the Duplo toys and the mysterious Queen Watevra Wa-Nabi (Haddish). Everything remains under the meta-textual guise of a real-world Lego set, existing largely in the imaginations of the humans playing with it; this time, it’s the children achieving actualisation and realisation through toys.
That’s not really the main appeal, though. The ham-fisted lessons and wacky adventuring are just a skeleton on which to hang the meat of the thing: gorgeous, stunningly realised animation; frequent self-referential shrewdness; and still some of the wildest, most surreal jokes you’ll find in any movie. Which other film can give you skateboarding dinosaurs, a DJing vampire, a ring-bearing banana, an emotionally unstable ice cream cone, three different Wonder Women, and the most unexpected cameo from Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg you’re likely to see this year?