Emmett (voiced by Chris Pratt) is a by-the-books, rules following Lego figure. This man has instructions for even the smallest tasks on what to do when he wakes up in the morning. One day, while heading home from his job at a construction site, his life is changed when he meets Wyldstyle (voiced by Elizabeth Banks). Mistaken as the “Special” (the greatest master builder – with a face of yellow – who has the ability to save the Lego universe) by Wyldstyle and Vitruvius (voiced by Morgan Freeman), Emmett is thrust into a situation that will certainly turn his routine, instructions following lifestyle upside-down.
With the evil Lord Business (voiced by Will Ferrell) plotting to destroy the Lego universe on Taco Tuesday with a device known as the Kragle (when you realize what it actually is, you’ll laugh) Emmett is looked to by the remaining Lego population to save the day.
To be fair, I was always a K’Nex kid, but that was mostly ’cause, being a roller coaster junkie, K’Nex always had the theme park ride kits. Full disclosure: I still have them and they’re set up as a mini-theme park in my attic. That said, I still had my fair share of fun with Legos and the various box kits that I remember having. When I first heard that they were making a Lego movie, my first thought was 90 minute toy advertisement for kids.
That couldn’t be further from the truth.
The Lego Movie is the type of film that could very easily fit right in with the other summer blockbusters, but I’m glad they decided to release it in the early months of winter. When you’ve reviewed 10 movies so far in 2014, and 6 of them were a D+ or lower, you almost wanna scream “Thank you!!!!” when a movie this good comes your way this early in the year. The Lego Movie is certainly the best film of 2014 so far. Not just that, it’s one of the funniest films of the past few years.
As I previously mentioned, this could’ve been just a shameless plug to advertise toys in front of children’s eyes, but co-directors/screenwriters Phil Lord and Chris Miller (who previously filmed the film version of 21 Jump Street, which I didn’t hate, but really didn’t like either) have put together a film that’s able throw all the Lego humor and pop-culture references (there’s a Star Wars reference that easily got the biggest laugh out of me) at us in a way that’s humorous and clever, and never done in a, “Hey, look what we’re referencing now! Get it?!” sort of manner.
Chris Pratt first stuck out to me in 2012′s superb Zero Dark Thirty, but it wasn’t until I saw Delivery Man (TV’s Parks and Recreation was never my cup of tea) that I realized he’s got some chops for comedy. In fact, he was probably the only good thing about Delivery Man. That’s not to say he’s automatically equipped for animated voice-acting, but I enjoyed what he brought to the character of Emmett. Emmett’s an ordinary, everyday, likeable guy that’s immersed into a he’s the “One” situation and immediately doesn’t know how to handle what’s going on. It’s a familiar character device, but credit Lord and Miller for poking fun at that particular Hollywood cliche we’ve seen thousands and thousands of times before.
The remaining supporting cast features a variety of well known talent that includes Elizabeth Banks as the feisty Wyldstyle, who Emmett develops a crush for, Will Arnett as a stuck on himself Batman (there’s also a small, recurring bit between Superman and Green Lantern that’s pretty funny), Charlie Day as the spunky and retro 80′s era spaceman Benny, and Will Ferrell as the villain Lord Business. I may not be a huge fan of Ferrell’s, but I gotta admit his comedic style fits voice-acting really well.
Two particular supporting standouts are the acting veterans Liam Neeson and Morgan Freeman. Neeson appears to be having a ball playing the Good Cop/Bad Cop routine, while also, in a way, poking fun at the “tough guy” persona he seems to have gained following the Taken movies. Freeman, of course, can do no wrong. The guy could read Lego instructions in a way that moves me to tears. It’s not just the fact that, yeah, the lines are funny, but also Morgan Freeman’s signature voice as he delivers them. I can just picture Lord and Miller sitting together going over the script, thinking, “Ooh, we should get Freeman to say this.”
I also have to mention the brilliant editing by David Burrows and Chris McKay as well as the animation crew. While the film was made using CGI, stop motion animation was also utilized, giving it that Lego block movement look. Blended together, the end result is a unique and creative visual spectacle that actually looks like various Lego sets pieced together and not just CGI animated backdrops.
Overall, though, what makes The Lego Movie such a fun experience is the universal appeal to both children and adults. That’s part of the reason why The Nut Job was a disappointment. Children will obviously eat this up with all the animation and wacky characters. Parents, though, will also get just as much of a kick out of the various references (the way Ferrell’s Lord Business pronounces certain torture tools are some jokes adults will immediately pick up) that will fly over the kids heads. It’s a fast-paced film and certain smaller jokes may run by you the first time, but that, for me at least, adds to this film’s “re-watchable” factor. I give this second watch, I’ll probably pick up a new joke here and there I didn’t catch the first time.
Kids will love the typical draw animated films have on them, but adults like me will also love the pop-culture references, the “Matrix-esque” satirical storyline, and the much needed dose of heart that brought the Lego, Erector set, and K’Nex loving kid out of me. The story’s a lot more witty, clever and heartfelt than most will expect it to be (it sets up for a sequel in a humorous way too), the voice-work is top notch and the animation is excellent. I was hoping and praying for February to save me and it did just that.
I give The Lego Movie an A (★★★½).