The LEGO Movie was a stunning achievement in franchises. Phil Lord and Chris Miller were able to use a branded toy line to tell a story about the way we tell stories, and satirize franchise tropes. Spinoff LEGO Movies have taken different approaches to satire (equally effective in The LEGO Batman Movie at least), but with The LEGO Movie 2: The Second Part, writers Lord and Miller have gone to the next level with their meta story about storytelling.
LEGO Movie 2 also takes a particular sequel approach of starting immediately with the final scene of the first movie. It’s always a tricky approach trying to recreate the same moment of a scene filmed years ago in Back to the Future Part II, Porky’s II: The Next Day or Harold and Kumar Escape From Guantanamo Bay, but perhaps it’s easy to recreate in animation.
And the scene of Finn (Jadon Sand)‘s toys trying to play with Bianca (Brooklynn Prince)s toys sets up the themes of the movie. She’s a younger sister so little kids don’t play by the same rules. She says, “You missed me” and Batman (Will Arnett) is flabbergasted, and she says, “I eat lasers.” Who can’t remember playing with friends who make up their own rules to the game?
LEGO Movie 2 flashes to five years later, which also makes sense. It has been five years since The LEGO Movie, and the kids will have grown up in five years. Here’s where it gets tricky. If Finn is approaching his teenage years, he’s going to grow more cynical and resentful of a little sister tagging along and trying to infringe on his cool grown-up LEGO builds. He’s becoming his father.
Emmet (Chris Pratt), Wildstyle (Elizabeth Banks), Batman (Will Arnett) and Unikitty (Alison Brie) resist sharing, and resistance leads to conflict. If Finn would accept Bianca’s childish rules, wouldn’t it be more fun than having her break everything Finn tries to build? Sure, it can be disappointing when you don’t get to play your way, but with siblings, isolation isn’t really an option. Playing with someone requires adapting, but it’s ultimately more rewarding than playing alone.
Five years later, Finn has built Apocalypseburg which is an homage to my favorite subgenre of films, so seeing it done LEGO style is a treat. The Sistar world and other plays on the live-action household also give The LEGO Movie 2 new ways to represent the idea of different people playing with the same toys.
All that metaphorical storytelling to represent Finn and Bianca’s sibling rivalry is clever, but the story of Emmet and co. within the kids’ bickering also goes in clever new directions. When it’s all over, The LEGO Movie 2 asks you to think about the live action story, the animated story, the kids’ story and the toy story in complex interrelated ways. It’s the kind of ambitious story that builds off the history established in the first movie, and that’s why franchises are wonderful.