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.

Nick Offerman: American Ham (2014)

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Director: Jordan Vogt-Roberts

Cast: Nick Offerman

Screenplay: Nick Offerman

78 mins. Not Rated.

 

Last year, comedian/actor Nick Offerman (TV’s Parks & Recreation, Danny Collins) released his newest special American Ham. Director Jordan Vogt-Roberts (The Kings of Summer) helped craft the special and elevated it to a higher level.

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In Nick Offerman: American Ham, the performer gets his chance to give his tips and advice to the audience on how to be a glorious human being. Essentially, it boils down to being an adaptation of his novel Paddle Your Own Canoe, and it works in that way. There is something soothing and interesting to Offerman’s stylistic storytelling that works really well here.

Director Vogt-Roberts, who will next be taking a trip to Kong: Skull Island, filmed visual cues to Offerman’s different points, and they are gorgeously shot, adding a touch of film-like flair to the stand-up special featuring wife Megan Mullally.

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Nick Offerman is a unique soul in the body of a distinguished celebrity. It was a thrill to watch him muse on life and give thanks to “the gorgeous stack of curves that is Nick’s legal property: Megan Mullally” while throwing in a song or two (the songs mostly don’t work in contrast to the rest of the material). All in all, American Ham is a worthwhile 78 minute excursion and celebration of life and I can’t wait for the next.

 

4/5

-Kyle A. Goethe

The Lego Movie (2014)

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Director: Phil Lord, Christopher Miller

Cast: Chris Pratt, Will Ferrell, Elizabeth Banks, Will Arnett, Nick Offerman, Alison Brie, Charlie Day, Liam Neeson, Morgan Freeman

Screenplay: Phil Lord, Christopher Miller

100 mins. Rated PG for mild action and rude humor.

 

The Lego Movie has a simple enough premise: an ordinary everyday man (mini-figure?), Emmet (Chris Pratt, Guardians of the Galaxy, next year’s Jurassic World) discovers that he may actually be the Special, a Master-Builder who can save the Lego world from the evil Lord Business (Will Ferrell, Step Brothers, Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues), who plans to unleash a weapon known only as the Kragle. Joining Emmet in his quest is Wyldstyle (Elizabeth Banks, The Hunger Games, Walk of Shame), another jealous Master,a Lego-ized Batman (Will Arnett, Despicable Me, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles), a cyborg pirate named Metal Beard (Nick Offerman, TV’s Parks & Recreation, 22 Jump Street), a princess unicorn/kitty (Alison Brie, TV’s Community, The Five-Year Engagement), a hyper-active astronaut (Charlie Day, TV’s It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia, Horrible Bosses 2), and a wizard with a prophecy (Morgan Freeman, The Shawshank Redemption, Lucy). Liam Neeson (Schindler’s List, A Million Ways to Die in the West) is Good Cop/Bad Cop, an unhinged enforcer working for Lord Business is hot on their tails.

This movie shocked me by how much I enjoyed it. After it began raking in the big bucks, I assumed it was at least something of merit, but originally, I laughed it off. I had seen toys/board games turned into really bad movies before, and I just knew that this would be one of them. After all, do Legos have a plot? Not really. In fact, they are meant to be a tool for imagination in a lot of ways. Little did I think that this would be the resounding theme of the film.

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The breakout voice work here is from Pratt, Arnett, and Neeson. The former two for their great comedic timing, and the latter for his ability to play straight-laced with absolutely wacky. I can tell from this performance that we will see a lot more headlining from Chris Pratt in the future (and that isn’t all that much of a prediction with Guardians of the Galaxy just recently released and Jurassic World on the way for 2015).

The cinematography in this movie is astounding. Get a look at this visual perfection. The Lego-style brick animation looks very stop-motiony and mixes perfectly with the lush landscapes in a very unique way that I’ve never seen before.

The music is another major win here. This score is very mechanical and, forgive my pun, building the entire story in a way that just pumped me up for the action and mayhem still to come. Let’s not forget the song “Everything is Awesome!” I could probably spend another article just analyzing this incredible piece that not only is very catchy, but also adds an entirely new dimension to the story.

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What more can I say? The Lego Movie is absolutely astounding! From the Octan references that harken back to my childhood to the overtly meta-storytelling we could get from Writer-Directors Phil Lord and Christopher Miller, I cannot recommend this movie enough, both for children and adults, it works on just about every level, and it just so happens to be one of the best films of the year. Look for it in the Best Animated Feature category at next year’s Oscars.

 

5/5

-Kyle A. Goethe

 

What did you think of Phil Lord and Christopher Miller’s The Lego Movie? Was Everything Awesome? Did the film just not snap together for you? Let me know!

We’re the Millers (2013)

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Director: Rawson Marshall Thurber

Cast: Jennifer Aniston, Jason Sudeikis, Emma Roberts, Will Poulter, Ed Helms, Nick Offerman, Kathryn Hahn, Molly C. Quinn, Tomer Sisley, Matthew Willig, Luis Guzman.

Screenplay: Bob Fisher, Steve Faber, Sean Anders, John Morris.

110 mins. Rated R for crude sexual content, pervasive language, drug material and brief graphic nudity.

We’re the Millers, Rawson Marshall Thurber’s newest release, finds an interesting concept with a broken wing, unable to fly as high as it should. We have a solid cast and a great plot, a perversion on the classic family road trip movie, but many of the jokes do not land as nicely as hoped.

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The story follows David Clark, a small-time drug dealer played by Jason Sudeikis (Horrible Bosses, Drinking Buddies) who finds himself in debt to his supplier Brad Gurdlinger (Ed Helms, The Hangover, TV’s The Office) and must smuggle a “smidge” of drugs across the border from Mexico to the U.S.A. in order to alleviate his troubles. So what does he do? He enlists a stripper (Jennifer Aniston, Wanderlust, TV’s Friends), a runaway (Emma Roberts, Aquamarine, American Horror Story: Coven), and a virgin who lives next door (Will Poulter, The Chronicles of Narnia: The Voyage of the Dawn Treader) and turns them into his fake family to look less conspicuous among the border-crossers. The idea sounds pretty good, right? The execution is where the film suffers. None of the jokes really come from the situation. Rather, the characters are written into ever-more-silly situations and the jokes spring up from that rather than pining the source plot for more hilarity.

The acting isn’t bad from anyone; far from it, the characters are all ably-performed. We get some good laughs from Nick Offerman and Kathryn Hahn, who play husband and wife RV-travelers Don and Edie Fitzgerald. The laughs in the movie are funny, true, but without any connection to the plot-line, the story unravels fairly quickly in the 3rd act, leading to a lackluster climax and a predictable denouement.

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This is a movie worth a viewing, yes, but it doesn’t have the lasting effect that I hoped for. There’s just too much goofiness to it which deters the viewers attention. Have a laugh, rent it, save some money.

3/5

-Kyle A. Goethe

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