The Lego Movie" -- a clever, playfully irreverent, sugar rush of an animated adventure based on the enduring toy line -- largely was a brick-blast of an affair in 2014.
Kids loved it. Many adults did, too, and surely others at the very least tolerated it thanks to its myriad smart jokes.
Two more big-screen Lego releases followed in 2017 -- the enjoyable "The Lego Batman Movie" and the decent "The Lego Ninjago Movie" -- and while they were plenty fun, they didn't quite snap together with the same crispness of "The Lego Movie."
Happily, everything is pretty awesome with "The Lego Movie 2: The Second Part," which continues the adventures of Emmett, Lucy, Batman and other characters from the first flick.
At the end of that film, we learned that the goings-on in the city of Bricksburg were being orchestrated, without permission, by the son of a human man (Will Ferrell) who had meticulously constructed it. The man learned a valuable lesson and chose to allow his son to play in his Lego world. However, he also opened it up to his other child, the boy's younger sister.
Five years later, the girl's effect has proved great, Bricksburg having become a postwar wasteland now, appropriately, known as Apocalypseburg.
Lucy (voiced by Elizabeth Banks) informs us that the last five years have hardened everybody, especially her. Well, everybody but Emmett (Chris Pratt), who still walks around singing the joyous "Everything Is Awesome" and ordering coffee with 25 sugars.
Early on, Emmett finds Lucy, who's busy monologuing about the ravages of war and the like, and he apologizes for interrupting her "brooding sesh." Lucy implores Emmett to awaken to the horrors of their new reality -- she even tries to teach him how to brood, but he has absolutely no knack for it -- and become the darker hero she now believes she and Apocalypseburg need.
Turns out, Emmitt had sought out Lucy to show her a house he'd built for the two of the them, a structure complete with many necessary rooms, such as the one designed for the making and eating of toasted foods.
"It's sweet," she tells him, an air of defeat in her voice. "It's just, it's going to attract aliens and get destroyed."
Soon enough, the citizens of Apolcalypseburg are confronted with visitors from a faraway place and try to fight them off, Batman (voiced as always by the terrifically ridiculous Will Arnett) firing a weapon at them and telling them to "eat it and weep." (When that does nothing, he fires at them again, insisting, to no avail, they "eat it more and weep more.")
Lucy, Batman and others then are kidnapped and taken aboard an alien ship bound for the invaders' world. Left behind is Emmett, who tries to summon his inner hero and mount a rescue mission, turning his, yes, since-destroyed house into a spaceship and blasting off for adventure.
En route to the alien system, Emmett encounters the extremely heroic Rex Dangervest, who looks suspiciously similar to Emmett and also is voiced by Pratt, although more dramatically. (One of the movie's nice running gags sees Emmett worrying that he's developing a "Fight Club"-like disorder in which he's projecting an idealized version of himself that isn't really there.)
Can Emmett and Rex save everyone before Batman agrees to marry the seemingly evil, shape-shifting Queen Watevra Wa'Nabi (Tiffany Haddish)? And can Lucy defeat the queen's top minion, General Mayhem (Stephanie Beatriz)?
While some of the story's ties to the real world happening around the Lego characters gets a little messy -- running jokes like the threat of a potential "ar-mom-ageddon," work, but the increasing presence of humans, including Maya Rudolph as the kids' mother, becomes distracting -- "The Lego Movie 2" is generally well-written by the duo of Phil Lord and Christopher Miller. Writers and directors of the first film, they are writers and producers on this sequel, and their combined creative touch is still powerful.
Again, they've packed in tons of silliness for the young ones, as well as lots of smart jokes for the grown-ups, bits involving everything from all the Batman-related films in development to what it takes to develop an appreciation for the alt-rock band Radiohead.
The sequel is directed, quite ably, by Mike Mitchell ("Shrek Ever After," "Trolls," "Sky High"), who keeps things lively throughout its slightly long running time. (As an adult, even if you appreciate what all the "Lego" movies have to offer, the cheery attack on the senses can become numbing after about an hour.)
Even with a little brain numbing, you can't help but walk out of "The Lego Movie 2" with a little smile on your face.
And you should see the kids' faces.