The Lego Movie (2014)

Written & Directed by Phil Lord & Christopher Miller

In recent years it seems an influx of remakes, sequels and superhero adaptations have overtaken the local box office at the multiplex. As a result many film buffs, and even a few casual film goers have cried out for originality and imagination in the films they spend their hard earned money to see. So I guess we should once again bemoan the unimaginative idea to force a corporate film about a child’s toy down the consumer’s throats once again. We all have seen how the Transformers series has panned out, how much better could a child geared Lego film be? Well, simply put, so much better than I ever could have expected.

Emmet (Chris Pratt) is a regular normal guy, a construction worker in Bricksburg. But when he accidentally discovers the Piece of Resistance, he must find the imagination and originality within himself to fulfill the prophecy that he is the “Special”, the one destined to take down Lord Business (Will Ferrell) and his evil plan to destroy the universe with his special weapon, the Kragle. Teaming up with such Master Builders as Wyldstyle (Elizabeth Banks), Vitruvius (Morgan Freeman), the 2002 NBA All Stars and Batman (Will Arnett), Emmett journeys to self-discovery in hopes of saving the universe he knows and loves.

There should truly be no surprise at how incredible everything about this film was. Helmed by the dynamic duo of Phil Lord and Chris Miller (Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs, 21 Jump Street), it creates a childlike wonder and sense of humor throughout, while also managing to marry that magic with a very mature message and plenty of social commentary to even get the adults in the theater to laugh a little, and perhaps contemplate modern times. Lord and Miller play off modern pop culture in a semi-meta, ultra-hysterical manner and at a level most animated films only wish they could ever reach. The ending of the film is heartfelt and perhaps common, but the evolution of Emmet’s self-confidence and outlook on the world in which he lives is the driving force and the strength of a fully immersing narrative, which renders the ending surprising, and that much more effective.

Emmet’s journey really brings the audience into the Lego world, wholly and completely. The animation is brilliant, no doubt, but the success of the film ultimately has to do with the brilliant voice performance delivered from Chris Pratt, who exudes the kind of enthusiasm and appreciation of the world required of a character like Emmet, who not only has to be likable and relatable, but the type of role model that reinforces the message of the film. Pratt nails it. And alongside him are a slew of wonderful voice performances. Liam Neeson as Good Cop/Bad Cop certainly deserves mentioning.

There was certainly a risk by making a blatantly corporate film like The Lego Movie. Escaping the branding seen here will be impossible for as long as people remember the film, but Lord and Miller have crafted something bigger and better than just a corporate commercial for Legos. They’ve managed to create a film that sparks the imagination of the viewer, challenges them to look at the world around them, break free of the masses, and find the special that exists in each and every one of us. In the course of doing so, they also treat us to a non-stop laugh fest. I had a smile on my face from start to finish, and laughed more than any comedy I’ve seen in some time.

***1/2 – Great

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