The Lego Movie
Review by Daniel Rester
Some of the best times in my early childhood involved playing with Legos. However, hearing now that a film was being made about the products was a little strange to say the least. It all seemed like it could just be one big marketing push, but thankfully writer-directors Phil Lord and Christopher Miller managed to give us much, much more than that with The Lego Movie.
Lego Movie follows the story of Emmet Brickowski (a perfectly-cast Chris Pratt), an ordinary construction worker minifigure. He soon comes across a female named Wyldstyle (Elizabeth Banks), and is then mistaken for the “Special.” Wyldstyle and a few other “Master Builders” – freethinkers who don’t need to use the instruction manuals in order to build things – believe that Emmet will be the savior that will stop the evil Lord Business (Will Ferrell).
Business plans on using a device called Kragle to freeze the universe in place. This leads Emmet and Wyldstyle on a series of adventures in order to stop him. Along the way they receive help from such figures such as Batman (Will Arnett), Metal Beard (Nick Offerman), and Uni-Kitty (Alison Brie).
Right from the start Lego Movie is in high-gear for delivering entertainment. Lord and Miller have managed to fashion a film that delivers the colorful characters and silliness that kids will enjoy while also supplying plenty of nostalgia and pop culture jokes that adults will be more tuned in for. Then on top of all of that, Lego Movie also manages to provide beautiful animation and story full of heart, messages, and rapid-fire gags. All of this surprisingly makes it one of the better animated films to come along in a while.
While the film is built (ha ha) on a simple idea and is loaded with references to products and popular entertainment, it’s what it does with its run that makes it all count. Lord and Miller manage to make characters and situations we’ve seen before come to life in a whole new way, and they provide clever dialogue and sight gags at every turn. Just seeing such things as Batman making Goth music and a unicorn-cat figure wreak havoc on bad guys is enough to make one smile, and the film provides plenty of zany moments like those.
The film also has a great voice cast to match. Pratt provides just the right amount of friendliness and everyday-guy attitude to Emmet, while Banks perfectly matches him as the heroic Wyldstyle. Ferrell provides an expectedly large amount of humor, but possibly the funniest cast members are Arnett, Morgan Freeman (as an old wizard named Vitruvius), and Liam Neeson (as Bad Cop/Good Cop, a split personality police officer). We also get such voice talent as Jonah Hill, Channing Tatum, Charlie Day, and Dave Franco popping up, along with a few other great cameos that I won’t spoil.
Lego Movie offers some surprisingly thoughtful messages about government control and unlocking one’s creativity, but it loses its step a bit towards its finish. While the denouement of the story remains satisfying, the film piles on its messages heavy-handedly and becomes a tad sappy near the finish. The film also feels long-winded and exhausting when it is coming down the home stretch.
Despite small gripes, Lego Movie is still a terrific animated film. With amazing design, colorful characters, top-notch writing, and exceptional voice acting, the film hits on many levels. It’s the first excellent film of 2014.
Score: 3 ½ out of 4 stars (Grade Equivalent for Me: A-)
MPAA Rating: PG (for mild action and rude humor).
Runtime: 1 hour and 40 minutes.