In 2014, writer-directors Phil Lord and Chris Miller gifted us The Lego Movie, a super funny, irreverent and brilliantly-constructed animated film about the power of imagination, and how important it is to embrace and nurture one's creative side no matter how young or how old you are. That film's wild success lead to multiple spin-offs, including The Lego Batman Movie and The Lego Ninjago Movie, but now Lord and Miller have returned to where it all began with The Lego Movie 2: The Second Part, an all-new adventure that reunites an ensemble cast lead by Emmet (Chris Pratt), Wyldstyle (Elizabeth Banks) and, of course, Batman (Will Arnett).
Written by Lord and Miller, and directed by Mike Mitchell (Trolls), The Lego Movie: The Second Part picks up literally right where the first film ended -- with the reveal that our live-action hero must now share his precious Lego space with his little sister. As these two parallel universes (one live action and the other animated) begin to evolve, all of the characters must figure out a way to work together before their individual worlds crumble forever.
“A lot of our movies are about romances and what it's like to have two people collaborate on something, which is sort of the story of our lives and our partnership,” co-writer and producer Phil Lord told Fandango in an exclusive chat. "This movie is about what it takes to combine two points of view and two imaginations and how one and one can make three, and how challenging that is and how hard it is to accommodate two different points of view, but also how enriching that can be.”
With tickets now on sale for The Lego Movie: The Second Part here at Fandango, we're excited to share this exclusive clip from the opening of the film, in which Emmet returns (along with a new version of "Everything Is Awesome") for a little stroll through Apocalypseburg.
The Sequel Is Awesome
In addition to the clip, Fandango sat down for a lengthy chat with Lord and Miller to talk about where the idea for the sequel originated, as well as the stories behind the music, the new characters and where they came up with amazing names like Rex Dangervest (also played by Chris Pratt) and Queen Watevra Wa'Nabi (Tiffany Haddish).
WARNING: The following interview will feature mild spoilers for The Lego Movie: The Second Part. If you want to remain completely spoiler free, then bookmark this page and return to it once you've seen the film, in theaters everywhere on February 8.
Fandango: The Lego Movie is not an easy movie to make a sequel to. When did you realize that you cracked the story for The Second Part?
Chris Miller: A couple of weeks ago! I mean, that's the thing about trying to follow up a movie that's [all about] originality and creativity. You can't just sort of go through the motions. And that's why it took five years before we had the movie, so it was worthy. We always knew we wanted [this movie] to be the chapter in the brother and the sister's imaginations coming together. But it was really hard to figure out how to tell that story in a way that felt new and fresh and interesting. And also, the idea that there's a live-action world is not as surprising to audiences in the sequel. So, we had to have new twists and surprises along the way so that you learned everything wasn't just exactly what you were expecting.
Phil Lord: I think one of the pains in the butt with this is that you want to use a sequel to be more ambitious, not less. And so, when we came up with the thought of, well, maybe we could tell a movie that worked from the brother's point of view and from the sister's point of view at the same time. Then, depending on who was watching it or who you were thinking about, you could see the story in two different ways, and that was a really smart idea from a bird's eye point of view, but a really dumb idea from a Chris and Phil scheduling point of view. [laughs] It requires a lot of heavy lifting and a lot of frustrating frontal-lobe brain work that takes time, and I'm really happy with how it turned out. The more you watch the movie, the more you realize it all works.
Fandango: When I think about this movie, I think about imagination and how important imagination is when you're a kid. How much do you guys discuss the inner workings of imagination when you're writing these Lego movies, and maybe how an imagination works in different people of different ages?
Chris Miller: We talk about it way more than you would expect, when it comes to a lot of the themes and the theories and the things that we're trying to say. We start a movie with themes, like, what do we want to say? What do we want to put out in the world? What are we passionate about that we can get excited to work on every day for years? And so, the movies often start as these weird college-thesis academia papers that end up having to go through a lot to get rid of all of that stuff, and put it in a subtext rather than text, [so that it] ends up with something that just feels more emotional and relatable.
Phil Lord: A lot of our movies are about romances and what it's like to have two people collaborate on something, which is sort of the story of our lives and our partnership. This movie is about what it takes to combine two points of view and two imaginations and how one and one can make three, and how challenging that is and how hard it is to accommodate two different points of view, but also how enriching that can be.
Fandango: So, in a way, this is kind of like your most personal film as a writing couple…
Chris Miller: In a way! It's funny - we keep circling around a lot of similar themes in our movies, and it's like themes of positivity and inclusivity and working together and all of that type of stuff. And, in all of our movies, we try and bring a lot of people to the parts and surprises, and it's just, each one has its own tones and vibes. This one is kind of a non-stop party. The movie itself is just full of fun upbeat songs and silly, silly jokes and stuff.
Phil Lord: This movie is sort of deceptively simple [and] it's actually in some ways a more sophisticated problem [than the first Lego Movie], which is what kind of a society do we want to build once we've gotten the freedom to make our own choices? It's kind of what happens when you get older. You eventually strike out on your own and you have to decide how you want to live.
The Music Is Awesome
Even if you never watched the first Lego Movie, chances are strong that its main song, “Everything Is Awesome,” got stuck in your head repeatedly. It had a silliness and irreverence to it, while also being just-catchy-enough to remain lodged inside your brain for way too many hours.
In The Lego Movie: The Second Part, the team doubled down on music, bringing back multiple versions of "Everything Is Awesome," while also crafting a new song that's literally about a song getting stuck inside your head. In addition to those, they also collaborated with Beck, Robyn and The Lonely Island on an end-credits song that is all about how great and necessary the end credits of a movie are.
Fandango: “Everything Is Awesome” was such a big part of the first movie, going on to become this super-catchy song. In this film, it does return, but you also introduce a new song about how songs get stuck in your head. What’s the origin story behind that, and was it inspired in part by the fact that “Everything Is Awesome” got stuck inside your head?
Chris Miller: Yeah, exactly. When we made the first Lego movie, we innocently wrote as a line in the script that the song "Everything Is Awesome" plays and it is the most infectiously catchy, moderately annoying pop song that you've ever heard... and it came true! Much to many peoples' chagrin, but other peoples' delight and it sort of weirdly straddled this line between sincerity and irony. And so we thought, 'oh, man, how do you follow that up?' How do you do something that has the same spirit, but is a totally different idea?
Phil Lord: We are definitely ashamed of ourselves for having inflicted "Everything Is Awesome" on the world and basically having people take it the wrong way. We saw it as a really sarcastic song and it just made people happy and we couldn't fight it, as hard as we tried. And so a lot of the movie talks about how basically we're sorry and I guess we took another swing at trying to make a song that was a little bit sarcastic.
Chris Miller: It’s more of a 'sorry, not sorry,' I’d say.
Phil Lord: I guess that’s true.
Fandango: You also have a great end-credits song, "Super Cool," that's all about how great the end credits are.
Chris Miller: It's Beck and Robyn. Beck wrote it and then Beck and Robyn performed it with a whole band.
Fandango: Did you just tell Beck that you wanted a song that made the end credits look really cool?
Chris Miller: Pretty much, pretty much. Like we were just thrilled that he took the time to write it and that it was so fun and wonderful.
Phil Lord: I think [Beck] is the only person that you can give that note to -- to make something cool, and then they do it.
Side note: "Super Cool" was written by Beck and the rap was written by The Lonely Island. The performers on the song are Beck, Robyn and The Lonely Island.
That Character Is Awesome
There are so many wonderful characters in The Lego Movie: The Second Part. Sure, you've got your returning characters, like Emmet, Wyldstyle, Unikitty (Alison Brie), MetalBeard (Nick Offerman), Batman and the Justice League, but it's the new characters that truly steal the show. From a banana that can't seem to not slip on his peel to Emmet's new bestie, Rex Dangervest, and the film's perceived villain, Queen Watevra Wa'Nabi, there are a lot of new, memorable faces to get to know.
Fandango: Love some of these new characters, especially Banarnar, the banana who is always slipping on his peel. He is easily one of the film’s great scene stealers. Did the character originate from the old banana peel gag?
Chris Miller: Weirdly, it originated because one of the storyboard artists, Craig Barry, drew this funny-looking banana in the background of one of the story boards. We thought he was so funny-looking that his part just got bigger and bigger. Ben Schwartz is a friend of ours, and he was kind enough to come in for a day. Then, when all the people in the room just glommed onto that banana, suddenly his part started getting bigger and bigger.
Phil Lord: Ben understands the character the best.
Chris Miller: He was like an extra who wormed his way into the fray, and then his part just gets bigger and bigger.
Fandango: Rex Dangervest is an amazing name. What's the story behind that name?
Chris Miller: Rex Dangervest came really early on when we were trying to make a character that represented all the places that Chris Pratt has gone since he made the first Lego Movie. When we made the Lego Movie, he was just the guy from Parks and Rec, and ever since then he's become like the world's biggest movie star. He also lost like 100 pounds and eventually became the ultimate action hero. So that name just tickled us -- and the fact that he was wearing a vest is because of a number of reasons and we use Rex as a verb, and so it's all deep in there.
Fandango: What about Queen Watevra Wa'Nabi? She is essentially the film's villain, but maybe not in the way you might think.
Chris Miller: Her name came from us not being able to agree on a good name. Her name was originally Princess Merpony, where she was a mermaid pony. Then her character evolved into a sort of shape shifter, which stemmed from the idea that you can take a bunch of Lego bricks and make them into whatever you want. It came about really organically. I think it was actually Matt Ashton, the Lego designer, who pitched the name. Something like that and we tweaked it a little bit into what sounded right to us.
Phil Lord: It's like part of her name is whatever you project onto her. And you can sort of imagine, it's like when you hang with your sibling you can paint them as an enemy and everything they do seems like it's bad. Or you can paint them as an ally and then you might see them in a more sympathetic way.
Chris Miller: Right. I have a son and a daughter, and I might see arguments where neither party is fully innocent. Sometimes they'll go about things the wrong way, but what they want is pure and they just don't have the right tools to work together.
Fandango: Have they seen the film and are they getting along better having seen it?
Chris Miller: They have seen the film.
Phil Lord: It magically cured all conflict in your house, right Chris?
Chris Miller: [laughing] I would say absolutely! Your kids will get along forever aftwards.
Phi Lord: And they never fought again.
Chris Miller: They never fought again.
Another Sequel Would Be Awesome!
Considering this is only the second part... are the guys open to a third part?
Fandango: The film is called The Second Part. It feels like you can't have a second part without following it with a third part, so do you see this story continuing?
Phil Lord: Actually, it does end on a big, big revelation. That is true, and that merits examination.
Chris Miller: We'll see how planet Earth responds to the movie first.
The Lego Movie: The Second Part hits theaters on February 8. You can snag your tickets right now here at Fandango. Check out the latest trailer for the film below.