It’s not often that early February is home to a great movie. It’s even more rare that you will find me crowning something as one of the very best of the year so early on. Believe the hype, when it comes to The Lego Movie, everything is awesome.
Phil Lord and Chris Miller are quickly proving themselves comedy geniuses for all ages. On the small screen they’ve recently found acclaim with Brooklyn Nine-Nine. In theaters, the unlikely 21 Jump Street reboot and Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs adaptation are both some of the best comedies to come out of Hollywood in recent years. It should come as no surprise, then, to find that their film about the adventures of classic plastic mini-figs should be anything less than fantastic.
Emmet (Chris Pratt) is just an average guy. A construction worker among a sea of other happy, average, construction workers. Wyldstyle (Elizabeth Banks) is a scrappy and mysterious woman. When she mistakes Emmet for the “Special,” who will lead the Master Builders in their fight against evil Lord Business (Will Ferrell), he’s in for an incredible adventure.
Along the way we are introduced to a bucket of fun characters including Batman (Will Arnett), and Bad Cop/Good Cop (Liam Neeson). The genius casting continues with characters of varying importance being voiced by the likes of Morgan Freeman, Will Forte, Cobie Smulders, Jonah Hill, Channing Tatum, Nick Offerman, Alison Brie, and Charlie Day, along with a few surprise cameos. It’s an ensemble that puts Oceans 11 to shame.
Lord and Miller have built this film right, literally. Unlike the (highly entertaining) LEGO video games which throw mini-figs and vehicles into mostly non-LEGO environments, 99% of everything on screen here is built of virtual LEGO bricks. Despite being (mostly) a computer animated film, the animation is still treated as if it were stop motion, the LEGO elements all moving like plastic bricks should move, and looking amazing. The shear attention to detail is exhausting, but in the best possible way. I saw this film in 3D which I could take or leave. It didn’t detract and distract, but it didn’t add a whole lot of magic either.
Bringing the same caliber of smart but mostly innocent humor that made Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs one of the best animated films in recent years, the comedy duo mesh their style with the quirky and creative nature of LEGO perfectly. From the most amusing iteration of Batman ever to grace the big screen, to a nonsensical place called Cloud Cuckoo Land, to contraptions that make perfect illogical sense, this film oozes the creative fervor that anyone who has spent a day with nothing but some plastic bricks and their imagination will understand.
A kid’s movie, yes, but one that embraces nostalgia and cultural references that will have audiences of all ages smiling and even singing along. And I haven’t even mentioned the story yet.
In the name of simplicity, the overall story is a pretty standard quest. The unlikely hero must make a difficult journey with a cast of allies to bring an object of power to a dangerous place to save the world. There are plenty of twists and turns along the way though and some surprisingly complicated themes of non-conformity, fellowship, and imagination explored.
If Emmet is going to stop Lord Business from releasing the Kragle to destroy the universe on Taco Tuesday, he’s going to have to stray from his instruction-bound life and improvise. I know, I know, when it’s typed out like that it sounds kind of dumb, but I promise you, it’s not, and it all makes wonderful sense in the end.
The film perfectly captures the childlike wonder of taking colored pieces of plastic and snapping them together to create entire worlds however you want. It’s a bit spastic, yes, but I mean that in the best possible meaning of the word. It reminds me of the LEGO Maniac from the club magazine’s comics – does he still exist? “Gotta….build….like…crazy!” was his catch phrase, seeing solutions to problems hidden amongst seemingly random bricks. This is not just a movie with LEGO pieces in it, this is a film built from the ground up, physically and in spirit, with LEGO.
As I write this, there is one “rotten” review of The LEGO Movie on Rotten Tomatoes out of 85. One. You can safely ignore the thoughts of this soulless cynic because this film has already, magically, solidified itself as one of the best movies of the year. I don’t use this overused phrase lightly, but it is truly a must see for all ages. It’s a celebration of imagination, ingenuity, creativity and comedy, all with a heart of golden plastic.
Oh, and one word of warning – you will be singing the theme song for days on end. I warned you.
Mrs. Hamster says:
“Great movie, well done. Truly a family movie because everyone in your family will enjoy it. I especially liked Batman because he was a huge punk and I hate Batman.”
My rating: Five out of five hats
The LEGO Movie assembles in 3,775 theaters, January 7