The Lego Movie 2: The Second Part – Everything is Still Awesome

 

The Lego Movie 2: The Second Part had a lot to live up to. The Lego Movie was a phenomenon – a first of it’s kind movie filled to the brim with pop culture references and catchy songs – comprehensible to children but widely enjoyed by adults everywhere. So how could Lego Movie 2 possibly hope to compare?

As it turns out, quite easily. Bringing back the impressive cast of Chris Pratt, Elizabeth Banks, Will Arnett, Nick Offerman, Alison Brie and Will Ferrell (amongst countless others), the film tacks on a host of other A-listers to the sequel; Tiffany Haddish, Stephanie Beatriz, Maya Rudolph, and Richard Ayoade, to name a few. Fans of The Florida Project are also in for a happy surprise with the casting of Brooklynn Prince as the youngest sibling and owner of the pastel coloured Duplo introduced at the end of the first film.

This Duplo is the crux of The Lego Movie 2. It begins immediately after the end scene of the first film; the new Duplo characters and Emmett meeting in a Close Encounters style set up. All goes well until the the hearts turn into grenades and begin to destroy Bricksburg, one financial building at a time. Amidst the violence, President Business escapes to his golf course retreat (that is not the last Trump joke within the film) and soon Bricksberg is laid to waste by the violent Duplo characters. Cut to five years later – Emmet, Wyldstyle and the gang are living in a Mad Max type apocalypse (with Metalbeard heading up the oil guzzlers). Everything is not awesome anymore.

There’s two distinct story-lines happening in Lego Movie 2. Unlike the first film, more the ‘real’ world is exposed and one of the narratives is based completely on the humans of the film. What was a wry revelation at the end of Lego Movie turns into a complete subplot, which motivates the Lego characters narratives. Finn, the child of Will Ferrell’s Dad, has a younger sister who is desperate to play with him. In her anger at being rejected from the playroom, she steals (“kidnaps”) Wyldstyle, Metalbeard, Uni-Kitty, Batman and Spaceman Benny, taking them through ‘stairgate’ and into the Systar (‘sister’) System.

Naturally, Emmet’s tries to rescue his friends, and along the way there are raptors, time travel sequences, catchy pop tunes and a burning critique of toxic masculinity. In the real world, siblings Finn and Bianca are fighting over their toys and running the risk of having all of them sent to storage (‘stor-ahge’) in the impending our-mom-aggedon.

First and foremost, we should all be thanking casting director Mary Hidaglo for bringing together some of the funniest and most versatile actors working today. It’s impossible to pinpoint who is at the best here, but Tiffany Haddish’s shape-shifting Queen Watevra Wa’Nabi has to be at the top of the list. From the suspiciously earnest vocals of ‘Not Evil’ to the hilarious ‘Gotham City Boys’, Haddish lends an authenticity to Wa’Nabi that works on multiple levels. Though Emmett may be the star of the film, Will Arnett’s Batman gets a lot of screentime – possibly due to the success of Lego Batman – and the matrimonial/love story between him and Wa’Nabi is definitely a highlight.

There are moments where it feels like Lego Movie 2 is taking it’s time, but when it arrives it really does land. Emmet’s time travelling alter-ego Rex Dangervest is an incarnation of Emmett’s worst insecurities, coupled with the trauma of being abandoned under the dryer. Rex teaches Emmet to break not build, and fills his head with conspiracies about brainwashing to try and get him to abandon his friends. The opposition to this violence is Bianca’s Duplo as it turns out they really do want to be friends with Emmet and the gang (even Wa’Nabi who, as it turns out, is just awkwardly honest). Rex disappearing is a metaphor for Finn rejecting the unemotional, tough-guy mindset that so many boys are taught is the right way to behave.

Though the time travel element and  Rex Dangervest are not entirely without issue (if the plot points are motivated by the humans, where did Rex come from and how do Emmet and Rex move unaided), The Lego Movie 2 just about holds it together to result a coherent message about violence, toxic masculinity and the importance of friendship and kindness.

Maybe it didn’t reach the dizzying heights of The Lego Movie, the distinct lack of marketing feels slightly odd here, but The Lego Movie 2 still has a lot to give. It’s full of heart, meta-jokes and even a Ruth Bader-Ginsberg figurine. The credits are worth a watch on their own – I’m glad they are finally getting recognition as the best part of any movie.

Oh, and ‘Catchy Song’ is definitely stuck inside my he-e-e-a-a-d.

8 Reasons You Should Be Watching Parks & Recreation

Parks and Recreation is a fantastic show. If you aren’t watching it, you should be. If you are watching it then good job. And if you’ve finished watching it then go back to season one and start that baby all over again. Seriously, I’m on my fourth re watch now and it only gets funnier and more excellent each time.

I wanted to write an in depth essay about the merits and achievements of Parks and Rec, something meaningful and articulate. Instead, I have decided that the best way of showcasing how great it is, is just to give you the definitive list of reasons why you should all be watching Parks and Recreation.

1) Leslie Knope/Amy Poehler

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Parks & Rec is centred around a small town local government parks department representative called Leslie Knope. Leslie has enormous amounts of ambition, loves waffles, friends and work (in that order) and seriously enjoys her job. She’s a wonderful friend to all, completely optimistic about everything and an out and proud feminist (“if I had to have a strippers name it would be equality”).

What makes Leslie different to a lot of female characters on television is not that she is driven and succeeds. In fact, she doesn’t even always succeed, for example (spoiler alert) getting voted out of office in season 6. The thing about Leslie is that she takes her failures on the chin and always makes the best out of a bad situation. She is never embarrassed by them and she always motivates herself to do better.

Basically, she is a well rounded woman who has flaws like the rest of us. It is a rarity to see women, especially in comedy, with these character traits. Leslie is strong and independent, but she is also human and relies on the people around her too.

2)  Female Friendships

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Speaking of Leslie’s support network, female friendship is something which Parks and Recreation  excels in. From Ann and Leslie’s beautiful friendship to Leslie’s mentoring of April (and April secretly loving it) Parks and Rec really gets the whole sisterhood thing. The women on the show constantly support each other, respect each other and they never argue about boys (with the possible minor exception of Ann and April…damn you Andy). Leslie’s Galentines Day tradition really underscores this incredibly written portrayal of female friendship (Valentines Day for girl-friends = Galentines Day).

 Parks also recognises that it’s not always sunshine and rainbows, but even when Ann and Leslie have a full blow snakejuice fuelled argument – they both realize they are wrong and reconcile together;  their friendship means more than their pride.

3)  Healthy relationships

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Another type of relationship which Parks and Recreation wins at is the romantic kind. Throughout the series, most of the main characters get into serious and not-so-serious relationships both with each other and guest characters. Whilst each relationship is incredibly different (can’t really compare Andy & April to Chris & Ann) they are all portrayed as healthy and loving. In season 2, Ron’s ex wife Tammy shows up and they rekindle (if you can use that word) their affair. It quickly becomes apparent that, whilst incredibly funny, their relationship is damaging to Ron and his happiness. The parks department all support Ron in breaking up with Tammy, none more than Leslie and in the end they prevail. Parks constantly shows the importance of friendship in relationships, as well as respect and trust.

Also if you don’t ship Ben and Leslie then what are you doing with your life?

4) Supporting Cast

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Never have I watched a show where I love every single member of the supporting cast. I *literally* cannot pick a favourite character. They are all well rounded, funny, interesting people with their own views of the world. They band together like a little family, one that I think we would all love to be a part of. The creators of the show spent so much time developing all of the characters individually, and it’s a unique touch that makes Parks and Rec that much more special.

 

5) Chris Pratt

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Okay, I do not have a favourite but Andy Dwyer/Chris Pratt deserves his own shoutout. Andy is hilarious, simple, caring and loyal. He was only supposed to be in the first season, and after splitting up with Ann – his character was supposed to leave Pawnee forever. Could you imagine? I for one can’t envision an Andy Dwyer-less Parks and Rec and thank goodness neither could Mike Schur and co. Andy has a fantastic heart, and what makes him even greater is that some of his best lines were improvised by Pratt onset.

 

6) It started life as an Office spin off but is wayyyyyyyyyyy better *

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Parks and Recreation started life as an Office (US) spinoff. As much as I like The Office, I am eternally grateful that Parks got it’s own path for television. The thing is, Parks and Rec is so much better than The Office. Instead of downcast characters that spend all day winding each other up and tearing each other down, Parks and Rec is filled with positivity and characters who are always supportive of each other. The humour in Parks comes from the situations that the Parks department find themselves in, not from chastising each other (apart from Jerry/Larry/Gary). Even then, we aren’t laughing at Jerry because we know that he has a beautiful wife and a massive penis (spoiler!)

 

7) Celebrity Cameos

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Celebrity cameos are far and few between but when they happen, they are amazing. It’s not the definitive reason to watch the show but seeing Jon Hamm as the office intern, and watching Leslie meeting Michelle Obama are certainly in my top 10 TV moments ever.

8) You will feel like part of the show

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Due to the way in which Parks and Recreation is filmed, mockumentary style with minimal lighting/staging, the characters really get a chance to interact with the camera in their own ways. From Tom Haverford’s surprised grin to Ben Wyatt’s exasperated plea for help, it helps us get a better insight into these characters thoughts and feelings. It also makes us feel like Leslie and the gang are talking TO us rather than around us. It’s beautiful.

The seventh season is currently airing so you still have time to catch seasons 1 – 6 on Netflix before the finale!

* DISCLAIMER I do like The Office ! You have to admit, it just isn’t Parks is it?