The director of The Lego Movie 2: The Second Part didn’t think anyone should make a sequel to The Lego Movie. And he wasn’t the only one who felt that way.
“We had friends, like prominent filmmaker friends who were like ‘Don’t do it. Don’t make a sequel,’” Phil Lord, the film’s co-writer and producer, told io9. “But we would rather take a risk than not. We’d rather fail trying something new.”
Among the friends who told Lord and his cohort Chris Miller not to make The Lego Movie 2 was the film’s eventual director, Mike Mitchell. A few years earlier, Mitchell asked Lord and Miller to come in and help with his latest film, Trolls. “They said ‘We’re thinking about a sequel for Lego.’ I said ‘You shouldn’t make a sequel to Lego,” Mitchell told io9. “I’m such a huge fan of Lego, I was like ‘That is the perfect film. It ends with a perfect gag. You cannot do anything else.’”
But as a fan, Mitchell was curious, so he asked Lord and Miller what they had in mind. “And as they started to tell me this story I was like, ‘Ah this is good stuff. This is good. I’ve got to be a part of it,’” he said.
Lord and Miller, who co-wrote and produced The Lego Movie 2 after directing the first film, weren’t thinking about the sequel when they came up with the ending of the first film. “We had painted ourselves into a corner and we’re like ‘We’ll just deal with it later,’” Lord told io9. The first movie ends with a bunch of Duplo characters, controlled by the non-Lego character’s younger sister, invading the Lego city of Bricksburg. The Lego Movie 2 starts up in that exact moment.
“We were just trying to make that first movie as good as it could possibly be,” Miller said about the ending. “And then, about two weeks after the movie came out, we did a little retreat to think about what could the next story be. And, obviously, that’s a great launching off point. As much as it was painting ourselves into a corner, it ended up being a great way to have a story about two different imaginations and two different styles of storytelling coming together.”
That was the idea all of the filmmakers involved sparked to: that years later, the human brother and sister would tell a new story in two different ways. However, this time, the audience knows human beings are behind it all because they’ve seen the first movie.
“In the first movie it’s this big surprise,” Miller said. “In this movie, we get to play with, ‘Wait. Whose imagination am I watching right now?’ and ‘What’s the human role analog to what’s happening here?’”
“The same events are happening but there are two different points of view, Lord added. “There’s this kind of like 13-year-old, R-rated section of the video store point of view. The Jim Cameron version. And then there’s this younger sibling who’s thinking about it more like a puppet show, a dance party, a terrarium, or crafting. All those things, all mixed together”
“So what’s cool is that you have a story where parts of it we intentionally leave up to interpretation,” Miller concluded. “People can take in different ways which I think always makes it better for repeat viewing.
Only time will tell whether or not fans think The Lego Movie 2 is successful in its aims. But when dealing with the kind of expectations that come with making a sequel to a hit movie, Lord and Miller said there were specific moments when they realized, despite all the pressure, that they were on the right track
“Can’t you tell when you’re hooked or not when you’re thinking about it without trying?” Lord asked Miller. “Like you wake up and you’re in the shower and you get in the car and you’re like ‘You know, I have an idea for that.’ Then it’s happening without you actively thinking about it, and you know there’s something going on.”
Mitchell thinks that engagement, plus his new perspective, were the right combination for the sequel.
“I think it helps that I was a huge fan [and] that I didn’t work on the first one,” the director said. “I wasn’t sick of the song like everyone else was. They all hated ‘Everything is Awesome’ and I was like ‘You gotta have that come back! We’ve got to put some kind of twist on it.’”
Ultimately, The Lego Movie 2 actually meeting expectations, and maybe even exceeding them, is a twist unto itself.
“It was a fun challenge because luckily the expectations for sequels are that they’re never that great,” Miller said. “So it was a real opportunity to tell a story that was full of new surprises and had more sophisticated and nuanced versions of the ideas that we set up in the first movie.”
The Lego Movie 2: The Second Part opens February 8.
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