The Lego Movie: Review

The_Lego_Movie_posterReview by Alec R. Lee

Your childhood toy finally has its own movie.  And its AWESOME!

You’d think that with a popular product such as Lego, it would have received its own movie a long time ago.  This came true (sorta) in 2003 when the line of Bionicle toys received their direct-to-DVD film but none of the sequels or other movie based off of Lego products ever made it to the big screen.  That all changed this year when the directing team of Phil Lord and Chris Miller (Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs, 21 Jump Street) partnered with Australian visual effects company Animal Logic (Happy Feet, Legend of the Guardians) to bring The Lego Movie to theaters.  Lord and Miller wrote the screenplay themselves (as per their custom) and managed to infuse it with the same clever humor that has permeated their prior films.  It’s a hilarious animated comedy and one that kids will never stop talking about (until Transformers 4 comes along…..damn Michael Bay).

The Lego Movie follows Emmet, a normal Lego construction worker who follows the same routine every day.  He’s not depressed by this because this is how people live in his city.  The Lego people follow their “instructions” on how to act and behave, such as detailing what rules to follow, how to shower properly, and what to listen to on the radio.  Emmet’s ordinary life changes while on the job when he gets accidentally stuck to the Piece of Resistance, a special piece that is prophesied to avert the end of the world, and that the person holding the piece is called the Special.  The leader of the Lego world, President Business, does not want the Special to stop his plans to destroy the world so he has him hunted down throughout the film.  Business’ ire comes from a special group of Lego people called Master Builders, people who have the ability to build whatever they desire out of any piece that they see.  Business desires order and control and for everyone to follow their instructions perfectly and hates the fact that Master Builders continuously defy him.  Emmet, despite his status as the Special, is not a Master Builder as he has never had the opportunity to create something original in his life.  With all of the hijinks, Emmet has to find out a way to stop President Business and bring freedom to the Lego world.

For such a project this ambitious, a huge cast had to be selected.  First up to bat is Chris Pratt, who plays Emmet in the film.  Pratt manages to pull off the everyman persona flawlessly here as you can believe that Emmet is nothing special, just a guy who was in the wrong place at the wrong time.  Elizabeth Banks plays Wyldstyle (jokes are made about the name), Emmet’s love interest who is a Master Builder, sarcastic, and a great character overall as she gets some bad-ass lines.  Will Arnett voices Batman in this movie and his incarnation of the character has to be the funniest.  This is because Batman acts like an asshole the whole time, speaks in a mock-Christian Bale voice, is cocky, and has a hysterical theme song (lyrics like, “Darkness” and “No parents” are highlights).  There are so many celebrities crammed together in this movie it would be impossible to mention them all.  I’m going to try.  Will Ferrell is great as President Business, Morgan Freeman delivers a reliable performance as an old wizard, Nick Offerman is unrecognizable in his role, Charlie Day acts like Charlie Day, Liam Neeson has a funny turn as Bad Cop (complete with slight Irish accent!), and Alison Brie had my sides aching as her performance as Uni-Kitty.  And those are all the principal roles, I haven’t even gotten to any cameos.  (Look them up on Wikipedia yourself, I’m done here)

Animal Logic’s animation here is stellar.  From first glance, you’d think that the whole movie was stop-motion, but no.  The entire movie was meant to have such a look.  Everything on the screen that you see is computer animated (aside from a few select items but that would get too spoilery).  Every conceivable item in this movie is all Lego.  Water is Lego, smoke is Lego, it’s a giant Lego set!  The fantastic part about it is that there is so many things going on in the background that your brain is on overload trying to process it all.  You are watching your Lego sets come to life and the movie is so fast paced that there isn’t enough time for it all to sink in.  The pacing is meant to be frantic so you’re going to have to keep up with all of the action, eventually you get used to it.  Mark Motherbaugh’s score is also as fast paced as the screenplay, utilizing retro sounds to fit the faux 8-bit arena that we are thrust into.  The music features a theme song written by Tegan and Sara, featuring the Lonely Island (of course!) that is so infectiously catchy that you’ll immediately be humming it on the way out the door towards the car.

Fans of Lego will be pleased to learn that a few of the more notable sets squeak their way into this film.  The Millennium Falcon makes an appearance (cue the John Williams!), as do the classic space sets from the 80s.  The Bionicle sets make a literal split second appearance (they are deemed “of little importance” for this film, perhaps they will get more screen time in sequels?) but the very inclusion should satiate the fans.  The main members of the Justice League show up here and the rivalry between Gandalf and Dumbledore is renewed here….but in Lego form.  Seriously, the very breadth the imagination of the writers and animators convey here boggles the mind.  They certainly have a vision for artistic possibilities (with Lego) and it is wonderful.

I haven’t seen a film this funny in a long time.  So many jokes were thrown our way and I found every one of them hilarious.  The fact that the film has already made back its budget in ticket sales shows that other people appreciate it as well, and a 95% on Rotten Tomatoes couldn’t hurt, either.  I was smiling throughout the whole film (a rarity) and I would be able to go back for a second time and try to spot other things that I missed in the background (trust me, there’s a lot of crap going on).  I will say this much: there is a twist to this film, but it is so well done that I was blown away when I saw it.  I’m keeping my lips shut on any details but I had to mention that fact.  With the complete product presented to us here, I highly recommend this film for…..well, anyone.  The jokes are hilarious, the tone of the film is very fun, and there are some references that adults will get and are funny in their own context.  The Lego Movie is a brilliant, brilliant, brilliant film and I would be lying if I said that it was anything less.

Final Score: 96/100

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