The Lego Movie 2: The Second Part (2019)

Director: Mike Mitchell

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

Screenplay: Phil Lord, Chris Miller

106 mins. Rated PG for some rude humor.

 

Do you remember when Everything was Awesome back in 2014 when The Lego Movie surprised everyone by actually being great? Remember how it got completely snubbed at the Oscars causing complete and utter outcry and sadness? Remember Pepperidge Farm? I remember.

It’s been five years since Emmet Brickowski (Chris Pratt, Guardians of the Galaxy, Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom) saved everyone by defeating the evil Lord Business on Taco Tuesday. Unfortunately for Emmet, Lucy (Elizabeth Banks, The Hunger Games, The Happytime Murders), and the others, that victory only made way for the invasion of the Duplos, frightening beings from the Systar System. Now, Everything is Not Awesome, and Bricksburg has become the bleak and dark and brooding Apocalypseburg. Emmet has tried to make the best of it by staying positive, but his happiness is tested when the sinister General Mayhem (Stephanie Beatriz, Short Term 12, TV’s Brooklyn Nine-Nine) kidnaps Lucy and the others and takes to them to the Systar System to meet with Queen Watevra Wa’Nabi (Tiffany Haddish, Girls Trip, Kevin Hart’s Guide to Black History) for a royal wedding. Emmet has to join up with the dangerous and strong Rex Dangervest (also Pratt in a dual-role) in order to have a chance at saving them and avoiding “Our-Mom-Ageddon” in the process.

The Lego Movie 2 sets itself up nicely as a direct sequel to the original film and even a follow-up to The Lego Batman Movie, but it’s clear that this sequel is missing the boat a bit in terms of its ability to ignite fire in its story. It comes right out and states that this is set 5 years after the events of The Lego Movie, but it doesn’t feel like anything fresh has been conjured in those five years. While the events, scenarios, and overall message of this sequel, there’s just something in the film that doesn’t work as well, as though director Mike Mitchell (Shrek Forever After, Trolls) is struggling to be Phil Lord and Chris Miller, the directors of the previous film.

Lord and Miller have crafted the screenplay here, and that’s why the overall arc of the film works, including some of the third-act twists and turns. I was surprised at myself for not getting where the film was going as it went, and I think that upped my overall enjoyment of the film. I found the screenplay’s meta-humor broadened even more so with the original film’s revelation that the Lego world is a representation of what is happening in the real world. Lord and Miller are able to use that to craft a lot of interesting humor between the real world and the Lego world that works nicely to bridge the two films.

The voice-work is pretty solid here, especially from newcomers Haddish and Beatriz. Haddish takes a lot of the heavy lifting as Wa’Nabi, and she holds her own in several musical numbers. With their inclusion, though, I felt the loss of Benny (Charlie Day, Hotel Artemis, TV’s It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia), MetalBeard (Nick Offerman, Bad Times at the El Royale, TV’s Parks and Recreation), and Unikitty (Alison Brie, The Post, TV’s Community), who are all relegated to tertiary-level characters in the sequel.

I think it was a bad call for Warner Bros to move the release date of this sequel to accommodate The Lego Batman Movie and The Lego Ninjago Movie. It separates this sequel from its predecessor in a way that kind of hurts it for people that haven’t watched the original recently. The Lego Movie 2 is perfectly fine and, at times, brilliant, but it mostly stands in the shadow of The Lego Movie, always being fun but never rising up to the level of its predecessor. I still found myself enjoying it, but it’s a step down.

 

3/5

-Kyle A. Goethe

 

 

For my review of Phil Lord & Chris Miller’s The Lego Movie, click here.

Popstar: Never Stop Never Stopping (2016)

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Director: Akiva Schaffer, Jorma Taccone

Cast: Andy Samberg, Jorma Taccone, Akiva Schaffer, Sarah Silverman, Tim Meadows, James Buckley

Screenplay: Andy Samberg, Akiva Schaffer, Jorma Taccone

87 mins. Rated R for some graphic nudity, language throughout, sexual content and drug use.

 

Today, I wanted to look at a flop from earlier this year: Popstar: Never Stop Never Stopping, from the creative team known as The Lonely Island and producer Judd Apatow.

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In this mockumentary, we are introduced to Conner Friel (Andy Samberg, TV’s Brooklyn Nine-Nine, Hotel Transylvania), former member of The Style Boyz. He had formed the band with childhood best friends Owen (Jorma Taccone) and Lawrence (Akiva Schaffer), but after a big solo record, Conner decides its time to quit the band and go forward with his solo career. The faux doc recounts Conner’s life in music mostly during this time through accounts by his publicist Paula (Sarah Silverman, TV’s Bob’s Burgers, Wreck-It Ralph), his manager Harry (Tim Meadows, TV’s Son of Zorn, Mean Girls), and other musicians that have known Conner.

Popstar: Never Stop Never Stopping is likable enough, but it never really soars. Sure, the movie has plenty of hilarious moments, but it never gets the footing to maintain enjoyment. I personally loved the cameo from Justin Timberlake as Tyrus Quash, Conner’s perfonal chef, and Will Arnett’s playing as the head of a faux TMZ called CMZ is absolutely amazing. I had to watch the CMZ segments multiple times. But these moments are too few and far between to really maintain my interest. Knowing the talented minds behind The Lonely Island, this should’ve been flat-out more fun than it ended up being.

It’s always nice to see musicians poking a bit of fun at themselves, and the many, many, MANY cameos definitely were refreshing. I found many of them to be quite amusing, but never really laugh-out-loud funny. Samberg’s portrayal of Conner tends to be a bit too unlikable to really root for. You almost want him to fail just for the catharsis that Rock Bottom offers, but even then, he just doesn’t get it, and before long, you just want more cameos and less Conner.

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Maybe I’m being too tough on Popstar, but maybe we deserve better. I’m shocked that the film failed to reach a target audience (as it only made back about half of its $20 Million budget), because it isn’t altogether bad. It is funny to be sure, but in a world of underperforming comedies, I just think it could’ve and should’ve been better.

 

2.5/5

-Kyle A. Goethe

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