Quick quips, quick cuts and catchy songs drive the action in the rollicking "The Lego Movie 2: The Second Part," a fun follow-up to "The Lego Movie."
Emmet and the gang return, but everything is definitely not awesome this time in Bricksburg. It's five years later. Aliens have attacked and obliterated much of the city, which is now dubbed Apocalypseburg. The primary problem is that the aliens have also abducted Emmet's friends, and he needs to devise a plan to rescue them.
Writer-directors Phil Lord and Christopher Miller gave us the thoroughly entertaining "The Lego Movie" in 2014, combining dazzling animation with the joys of children playing with their favorite toys. The duo also wrote the sequel, but turned over the directing reins to Mike Mitchell ("Shrek Ever After").
The gimmicks in No. 2 are the same: The Lego men and women actually take the time to build things with Lego bricks (albeit rapidly), and move around like Lego figures. Because humor is the No. 1 objective, it also helps that the film is peppered with a terrific voice cast.
The always charming Chris Pratt returns as the bright-eyed, well-meaning, naive Emmet, who is a little excitable (he takes 25 sugars in his coffee).
Elizabeth Banks is back as the savvy, brave Lucy, aka Wyldstyle. Also returning are Will Arnett as the self-obsessed, gravelly voiced Batman, Alison Brie as Unikitty (a unicorn-cat), Nick Offerman as the snarling pirate MetalBeard and Charlie Day as the spaced-out spaceman Benny. Banks is especially impressive with her caustic asides. Arnett gets all the best lines.
There are also glimpses of the humans and the house where all of these Legos actually live, with Maya Rudolph playing the mom. Fortunately, those moments are brief because they are the weakest part of the film.
As Emmet travels through space to the Systar System to find his friends, he encounters a rough-and-tumble dude named Rex Dangervest. Full name: Rex Machete Ninja Star Dangervest (also voiced by Pratt). Rex is everything Emmet isn't: fearless, ruthless, reactionary. Rex also has a space crew consisting of braying dinosaurs, who come complete with subtitles.
Together they find the weird world ruled by Queen Watevra Wa'Nabi (Tiffany Haddish), who is fond of shape-shifting and is hellbent on marrying the kidnapped Batman.
Batman protests. For one thing, he says he's "a confirmed Bat-chelor." For another, "It's totally on brand to be a loner with a broken heart."
The family-friendly film provides smiles for kids and enough pop-culture references and inside jokes for adults to laugh along.
There have already been two Lego spinoffs — "The Lego Batman Movie" and "The Lego Ninjago Movie" — so the filmmakers are battling sequel fatigue. They mostly succeed, though "The Lego Movie 2" is not as sharp and clever as the first one.
It does help, however, that the scattershot jokes come at a torrid pace. And, in the Lego tradition, there is also a mad mix of music, including songs by Beck, Jon Lajoie and the Lonely Island. The score is by Akron native and Devo legend Mark Mothersbaugh (who has now composed the music for three of the four Lego movies).
Speaking of songs, where the first film gave the world the eternally chirpy "Everything Is Awesome," No. 2 unleashes the danceable "Catchy Song," which features the endlessly repeated lyric, "This song is gonna get stuck inside your head; this song is gonna get stuck inside your head." It does.
Clint O’Connor covers pop culture. He can be reached at 330-996-3582 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @ClintOMovies.