Thursday, February 13, 2014

The Lego Movie (2014)

It's been said that The Lego Movie is little more than a extended toy commercial. Even if I agreed with that, my general response to this is, "Who cares?" Legos are awesome, and so is The Lego Movie!

How rare is it that you have a series of toys that has stood the test of time. I played with Legos when I was a kid, particularly the generic 80's Space Legos referenced in the film, and decades later my nephews are playing with them. Only they have much cooler Star Wars and Superhero themed Legos. Plus, there's the great Lego video game series, too. Admit it, you've played them. I suppose it helps when you film is based on a product that has a broad, built in audience.

The basic story is a Matrix-esque hero's quest. When attempting to protect a weapon called the "Kragle", Vitruvius (Morgan Freeman) warns Lord Business (Will Ferrell) of a prophecy where someone known as the "Special" will find the Piece of Resistance, the only thing that can stop the Kragle.

Later, we meet Emmet (Chris Pratt), an average guy with no special skills or qualities. While working on a construction site, he sees a woman, Wyldstyle (Elizabeth Banks), frantically searching for something. When trying to catch up to her, he stumbles down a hole and finds the famed Piece. He has a vision and shortly after is arrested by Bad Cop (Liam Neeson). Emmet learns of Lord, now President, Business' plan to use the Kragle to destroy the world. Believing Emmet is the Special, she rescues him and off they go to thwart President Business' plan.

It's almost hard to put into words how much fun is packed into The Lego Movie. There literally is a laugh a minute, with the gags coming in such rapid fire succession that it's easy to miss everything that's going on. Like many of the better animated films, the humor doesn't pander to a particular age group. There's something for everyone. At times you'll hear a big laugh from the kids, then maybe a handful of adults at something a little more obscure. They even throw in a subtle dig at generic sitcoms and pop music aimed at the masses.

As we get to the conclusion, there's a slight twist that gives the story some weight and makes it more than just about jokes and pretty animation. You'll look back on the film and realize that some of it's creativity, and even the simpler moments, are really more about the imagination of a child. It also reminded me of times where I would refuse to let my nephews take a Star Wars action figure out of the package, as to not ruin it's condition or integrity, when they simply wanted to play with it. Toys, especially Legos, are meant to be played with and inspire creativity, not sit on some old guy's shelf hoping it will gain value some day. Sure collecting has its place, but it helps to be reminded about their true purpose.

Despite Legos not having a ton of articulation, the animation is surprisingly fluid. There some very creative use of Legos to animate rounded shapes like clouds and water. There's some great Transformers type stuff, as well. This is also one of the few movies that I wouldn't hesitate to recommend seeing in 3D. The format fits the the vibrant images and animation well.

Where The Lego Movie really shines is with it's voice cast. As I've mentioned in previous animated films, it's a strength when they can cast recognizable voices, but they don't distract or take you out of the movie. While the cast is filled with big name stars, you're likely to not recognize many of voices until you watch the credits. Many I thought were impressions until I saw they cast the actual person. Chris Pratt, Elizabeth Banks, Morgan Freeman, and the rest are all great, but I think most people will remember Will Arnett's portrayal as Batman as the best of the bunch. He's absolutely hilarious, and sings the best Batman related song of all time. Charlie Day was also another standout as his voice fit his character perfectly. I think you'll see a lot of people quoting his, and other lines, from the film for a while.

Lastly, I have to mention the directing team of Phil Lord and Christopher Miller. These are the same guys behind Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs and 21 Jump Street, so they are really knocking it out of the park so far.

The Lego Movie is truly a great animated family film that appeals to the kid in all of us. It's smart, hilarious and features both great animation and voice acting. I know it's early in the year, but I can already see this in my best of 2014 list and easily my favorite animated film. I can't recommend this movie enough.

5 (out of 5) Death Stars



  1. Good review, Erik. Definitely a fun and charming film this one was. :)

    1. Thanks, Chris. I still can't get over how fun this was. This buzz on this is out of control. :)