The greatest family films aren’t just entertaining, they’re steeped in strong messages. In 2014, The Lego Movie reminded adults never to lose their sense of childlike wonder, among other things (though some critics may have read too much into the film’s deeper meanings).
Its new follow-up, The Lego Movie 2: The Second Part, has plenty to say as well. Co-writer and producer Chris Miller has called the film “a plea for empathy.” But in a major plotline that calls on sweethearted hero Emmet (voiced by Chris Pratt) to toughen up, it’s clearly a commentary on gender roles in society and the concept of toxic masculinity.
Director Mike Mitchell and animation director Trisha Gum confirmed when they spoke to Yahoo Entertainment (watch above). “We really felt like we wanted to make a film that had really strong, important messages in our world today, especially with what we’re all going through right now,” Gum said. “So opening yourself up to another imagination, to another point of view, was something that was really important to us.”
Said Miller, who was joined by longtime collaborator Phil Lord (21 Jump Street, Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse): “There’s a point where you are sort of taught shame and you’re taught that there’s an expectation of you to be hard and tough and cool and gritty and cynical. And when you find out that everything in the world isn’t actually awesome, what we think is the real sign of maturity is to be able to be empathetic, kind, positive and optimistic, which is even harder to do.”
While it’s revealed at the end of The Lego Movie that it was the (human) boy Finn orchestrating the characters in the film, in The Second Part the older brother is at odds with his younger sister, Bianca, who has brought her own Lego blocks into the fray, causing friction not only for our toy heroes in their adventures but also in the siblings’ real-life home.
“More importantly, it’s about staying connected to the people in your life that are going to love and support you,” said Elizabeth Banks, who reprises her role as Lucy/Wyldstyle. “And it’s OK to question, ‘Am I good enough? Am I strong enough?’ You know, the world is changing around Finn in this movie, and that’s all right. That process of discovery of who you authentically are, we all go through that.”
“To use a phrase that we’ve all heard from the time we were kids, ‘Learn how to play well with others,’” said Stephanie Beatriz (Brooklyn Nine-Nine), who plays the new character General Mayhem/Sweet Mayhem. “Because essentially we are in a period of history where that’s not happening all the time.”
The Lego Movie 2: The Second Part opens Friday.
Watch Chris Pratt talk about why his characters never find love:
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