Film Review: The Lego Movie

by Chad Liffmann on February 7, 2014

Everything about this movie is awesome.

Cast of colorful characters, assemble!

Cast of colorful characters, assemble!

When I first learned of a LEGO movie, I was cautiously optimistic.  I was raised on LEGO.  I still vividly remember setting up Robin Hood-esque forest fortresses, flag-covered castles, and farming villages (yes, the medieval times was my go-to theme).  The instructions that came with each box provided the groundwork for my imagination to later run wild.  The idea of a LEGO feature film confused me, since I couldn’t conceive of a plot worthy of the great expanse of LEGO wonder.  But then I saw the trailer, and it seemed to click.  In a brilliant maneuver, LEGO and the filmmakers have included it all – legos from across “universes” and time periods – into a charming underdog story with a genuinely heartfelt message.  The Lego Movie succeeds in its perfect execution of jam-packed jokes, self-referential humor, pop culture teases, talented voice acting, frenetic action that borders on being chaotic, and jaw-dropping animation.  So yeah, it succeeds all over the place.

Emmet (Chris Pratt) is a common construction worker LEGO, normal and boring, who allows instructions to run his life.  Accidentally happening upon a LEGO piece of legend, Emmet lands himself the title of the “Special,” a prophesized leader in the fight against Lord Business (Will Ferrell), who is hell-bent on applying strict order to the universe.  Emmet is aided by wickedly cool and super bad-ass Wyldstyle (Elizabeth Banks), a member of The Piece Resistance (the charming puns are endless!), which is led by the wizard Vitruvius (Morgan Freeman).  The battle between good and evil invites a large assortment of characters into the picture, created for this film and popular cultural icons, including Batman (Will Arnett), Superman (Channing Tatum), Abraham Lincoln (Will Forte), a good cop/bad cop (Liam Neeson), an energetic 1980’s spaceman (Charlie Day), and seemingly hundreds more.

Directors Phil Lord and Christopher Miller (21 Jump Street, Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs) maintain the fast-paced humor that has brought them great success to date.  With the help of animation co-director Chris McKay (Robot Chicken)The Lego Movie boasts unflinching energy and expert comedic timing.  Children will love the sight gags and comic characters while adults will be thoroughly entertained by the gorgeous stop-motion animation and witty banter.  All ages will enjoy the spirited sense of fun and adventure.

'Wyldstyle and Batman, sittin' in a tree!'

‘Wyldstyle and Batman, sittin’ in a tree!’

It’s quite obvious that the amount of detail put into this film is evidence of the talent’s passion for LEGO.  Stick around for the credits and you’ll find an ongoing list of celebrity voices, some you recognized and others you had no idea were involved.  Usually, this type of A-list cast only assembles for movies (and especially animated family films) in which the subject matter has some unique personal significance.  In this case, its likely that most of the cast grew up with legos scattered about their bedroom floor.  And, boy did the filmmakers put their effort into the animation!  It’s reported that there are over 3.8 million unique LEGO bricks, 183 different LEGO minifigurines, and a grand total of 15 million LEGO pieces in The Lego Movie.  Sure, most of the bricks were created on a computer, but still, that’s a LOT of bricks!

The Lego Movie can be viewed as the longest, most blatant, commercial of all time.  I state this with the utmost respect because despite what the movie can be viewed as, it takes that supposed “agenda” and embraces it.  Did I leave the theater wanting to immediately open a LEGO box and begin assembling? Heck yes!  But who’s to blame me…or LEGO?  The film feels fresh and original, despite featuring toys that were first introduced to the world in 1949.  The Lego Movie celebrates the individual spirit and craftsmanship with a smart story that hits all the right notes.  Even a small child sitting behind me in the screening, who up until the final fifteen minutes was surprisingly scared by much of the movie, sat up and audibly reveled at the emotional message on full display in the final act.  Whew, and I thought the sappy bits would bore kids. The movie’s theme song, the super catchy and hilarious “Everything is Awesome,” sounds like a not-so-subtle boast by the movie’s production team, and why not?  They’ve created a movie where, indeed, everything IS awesome.

 

Important Note: You WILL be singing “Everything is Awesome” for days after seeing The Lego Movie.

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The Lego Movie opens today in Bay Area theaters.

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