‘The Lego Movie 2: The Second Part’ Review: Everything Is Not Awesome. Everything Is an Ad. | Modern Society of USA

‘The Lego Movie 2: The Second Part’ Review: Everything Is Not Awesome. Everything Is an Ad.

‘The Lego Movie 2: The Second Part’ Review: Everything Is Not Awesome. Everything Is an Ad.

The new animated Lego movie is pretty much like the last one. Or maybe I’m thinking of another one, not that it much matters. There are differences between editions, most fairly negligible. The unifying factor, to note the obvious about the state of big-screen children’s entertainment, is that they are all feature-length commercials. The “Transformers” series helped pave the way for Legos by flipping the old idea that movies (like “Star Wars”) were the creative source for the licensed merch, the lunchboxes and action figures. Now, toys, board games and so on are sometimes the originating point.

This isn’t news; I know it, you know it. But it seems worth repeating again and ad infinitum, especially given that “The Lego Movie 2: The Second Part” isn’t as distractingly fun, shiny and bright as the more satisfying franchise installments. It drags and sometimes bores, which makes it easier for your mind to drift elsewhere, to thoughts of family, deadlines, chores, the creative impoverishment of the big studios and the casual, fundamentally corrupt commercial exploitation of the child audience. Put differently, what distinguishes this from the better Lego movies is that they’re good commercials.

The new one was written by Phil Lord and Christopher Miller, the franchise’s brain trust, and directed by Mike Mitchell, whose credits include “Trolls,” another toy-based feature. “The Lego Movie 2” mostly takes place in Bricksburg, the happy town where once upon a time in the buoyant 2014 movie, Emmet (voiced by Chris Pratt), an upbeat dude in an orange vest, triumphed to become a heroic master builder. Five years later, life in Bricksburg has turned into a George Miller-esque dystopian hellscape. Emmet still looks on the sunny side, but everyone else, including his pal, Lucy (Elizabeth Banks), looks like Lilliputian refugees in their own decrepit and sand-swept “Mad Max.”

That sounds more promising than what transpires in the movie, a busy, noisy clutter of action sequences, pop-cultural allusions, life lessons and cute critters. The clever if rather cynical, self-reflexive back story involves live-action scenes of a bickering big brother and little sister who, unbeknown to Bricksburg, are the true master builders. The children’s disharmony makes trouble in their play world, draining it of color and optimism; in other words, everything is not awesome, to borrow the franchise’s insanely catchy theme song. There’s a tidy message here: Be nice to your kid sister, which is supernice advice especially because the movie was produced, directed and written almost entirely by men.

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