Five years removed from the original The LEGO Movie, Warner Bros. Animation returns with the follow-up to the 2014 smash-hit with, The LEGO Movie 2: The Second Part. It’s star-studded voice cast returns with Chris Pratt, Elizabeth Banks, Will Arnett, and Nick Offerman leading the charge, and joining them on this intergalactic adventure is Tiffany Haddish and Stephanie Beatriz. Haddish who voices the un-nasty, un-evil Queen Watevra Wa-Nabi, and Beatriz as her general of sorts, Sweet Mayhem.

After Bricksburg is sent into a post-apocalyptic society due to the invasion of the LEGO Duplo monsters, Sweet Mayhem of the Sistar system arrives five years later and captures Batman, Wyldstyle, Unikitty, and Benny the Spaceman to have them participate in a matrimonial ceremony. After Mayhem escapes through the Stairgate with Emmett’s friends, everything becomes less awesome, and he has to uncover the more powerful, stronger side in him that’s been hiding for too long.

From the brief synopsis of the film’s earliest stages, The LEGO Movie 2 is definitely the science-fiction, action adventure promised in the marketing. From its Star Wars inspired poster, synth-based music, and admiration for staples of the science-fiction genre, it uses this foundation to build great laughs and emotional character beats throughout. Pratt (who has usually been typecast as the same type of character) really gets an opportunity to flex his creative muscles in taking on Rex Dangervest. A more grizzled, hardened, and serious character that makes for some of the film’s most hilarious moments as a juxtaposition to Emmett’s sincere, harmless, and joyous persona. Like the entire LEGO franchise, the entire voice cast delivers more of what we love from them in the previous outings with their quick, wild, witty banter that comes at a fast and furious rate. There is very little room to breathe between gut-busting laughs as the jokes get bigger and more creative as the runtime moves along.

Outside of the self-referential type of humor strung throughout that these LEGO movies get the most credit for, I’d be remiss not to mention how sharp the animation is here. There will be times when the jokes are running rampant where you’ll find yourself in awe at the detail and precision apart of these character models and the spaces they inhabit. Particularly in the Sistar system where there is so much detail in every corner that it seems like each different avenue has a new story to tell or a new character to meet. The LEGO franchise does have the luxury of having thousands of characters and properties at their disposal, but it’s their ability to tell worthwhile stories that continuously astounds. Even if all of the narrative decisions here don’t always hit the mark in the way they intended.

Without diving into spoilers, the final act of The LEGO Movie 2 tries to riff on many big moments from previous films they took inspiration from. It’s a lot like what Deadpool 1 and 2 try and accomplish (except without all the cursing), where those few things they’re trying to make fun of actually effects their film as well. Fully understanding what they were shooting for, it just made an already pretty obvious statement too on the nose or far too convoluted in explaining it all. For kids, there will definitely be revelations, audible gasps, and maybe a few tears (as it’s catered to them), but it flirts with nonsense a bit too much towards the end. Especially when compared to the seamless, earned blend of live-action and animation that took audiences by surprise in the first outing.

Overall, the five-year wait for the follow-up to the Oscar snub was well worth it. Warner Bros.’ ability to take this franchise and turn it into a self-critique of their properties and imperfect vision of their superhero properties makes for pretty rewarding laughs from such a titan in the major studio system. Where every other studio is concerned with reminding audiences why they fell in love with a franchise to begin with, Warner Bros. is a few steps ahead with its animation department in tapping into a wide variety of audiences with its laughs as the centerpiece. Sometimes they reach for low-hanging fruit, but for every reach, a clever bit comes out of nowhere that only a few may laugh at, but it only compliments how in touch with a variety of audience members this film is. As The LEGO Movie 2 reaches its emotional climax, it knocks it out of the park with its universal themes that any and all audience members can take something away from. It’s a film that works as an ode to so many genre tropes, iconic moments, and characters apart of the medium’s storied history, and it also works as an evolution of animation and the type of comedy we can come to expect from a kid’s film in this era. This should be another monumental achievement financially and critically for Warner Bros. Animation as this franchise has created something truly special.

The Lego Movie 2: The Second Part