The Lego Movie 2: The Second Part, rated PG

Starring Chris Pratt, Elizabeth Banks, Will Arnett, Tiffany Haddish, Stephanie Beatriz, Alison Brie, Nick Offerman, Charlie Day, Maya Rudolph, Will Ferrell

Austin Family Critical Rating: 4 of 5 stars

Austin Family Family-Friendly Rating: 4½ of 5 stars

Before I discuss the film itself, let me first encourage you to stay for the end credits of The LEGO Movie 2: The Second Part, in which we’re treated to a new song: Super Cool from Beck and The Lonely Island about the joy of watching ending credits. The song (along with an accompanying animated sequence) distills all of the film’s cleverness and originality into a few minutes, all the while serving as an ode to those of us who like to stay for the end credits.

As a major fan of The LEGO Movie (2014), I was a bit concerned in the opening minutes of this sequel that the manic energy and novelty of the original was starting to wear thin. The LEGO Movie was a delight because of the absurdist humor brought to it by directors Phil Lord and Christopher Miller – the film had such an irreverent and anarchic sensibility for a film about, well, LEGOs – and I was worried that what worked brilliantly the first time might feel a bit tired the second time. Luckily, after a first act that’s a little too self-aware, I finally settled into the rhythms of The LEGO Movie 2 and was delighted.

Emmet (Chris Pratt), the rather ordinary LEGO who saved the day in the original, is the only optimistic person in Bricksburg (now a dystopia called Apocalypseburg). He wants to settle down in an idealistic suburban home with Lucy (Elizabeth Banks), but she has her sights set on the invaders who continue to destroy Apocalpyseburg, the LEGO Duplos. As in the original, the meta-narrative of The LEGO Movie 2 involves a live-action family. Apocalypseburg is the creation of teenager Finn (Jadon Sand) and the Duplos are the toys of his younger sister, Bianca (The Florida Project’s Brooklynn Prince). If the two siblings can’t resolve their differences and stop destroying each other’s LEGO sets, then Mom (Maya Rudolph) is going to put all of the LEGOs in storage.

Faced with this Toy Story­-esque existential threat, Emmet races through “outer space” to rescue Lucy after she’s kidnapped by Queen Watevra Wa-Nabi (Tiffany Haddish), one of Bianca’s toys. Along the way, Emmet meets Rex Dangervest, a rollicking space cowboy who looks and sounds a bit like Emmet, but is much more … awesome. (Pratt also voices Dangervest, embodying the characteristics of his other famous film roles and doing what sounds like a Kurt Russell impersonation.) Many of the film’s funniest moments involve the romance between Queen Watevra Wa-Nabi and Batman (Will Arnett), whose fear of commitment impedes the Queen’s marriage proposal.

Packed with sight gags (there’s one of the Lego Oscars!), hilarious cameos (Bruce Willis pops up repeatedly, at one point passing Lucy in a ventilation shaft, in an ode to Die Hard) and referencing everything from Mad Max: Fury Road (2015) to 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968), The LEGO Movie 2: The Second Part is almost exhausting in its energy and constant stream of jokes. Although it took me time to adjust back into the world of a movie with such constant sensory overload (I’ll admit it – I like my films a bit slower), I would ultimately recommend The LEGO Movie 2 to just about everyone – I don’t think there was anyone in the cinema who wasn’t laughing. There are certainly jokes that will go over some kids’ heads, but very few that are inappropriate. I’d recommend this film for ages 5 and above.

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