The Lego Movie Review

Posted: March 12, 2014 by Daniel Simpson (PG Cooper) in PG Cooper's Movie Reviews

the-lego-movie-poster-chris-pratt-emmetWritten by Daniel “PG Cooper” Simpson

Hollywood has been increasingly criticized in the last few years for its transparent lack of creativity. It seems as though almost everything released is a remake, reboot, sequel, prequel, or adaptation of another property. It’s gotten so bad that board games are being turned into big budget spectacles like Battleship. The Lego Movie just seemed like another in a long line of bland and uninspired cash grabs. The stellar cast didn’t exactly help either since most animated films manage to pull in A-listers regardless of quality. The film did however have one silver lining in the form of writers/directors Chris Miller and Phil Lord, the duo behind 2012’s 21 Jump Street. 21 Jump Street was a property that seemed destined to suck, however Miller and Lord were able to make a very funny and clever film. My hope was they could so the same with The Lego Movie, and I’m happy to say the pair have succeeded yet again.

The Lego Movie takes place in a world made entirely out of Lego pieces, with the citizens who inhabit it being Lego men and women. The plot follows Emmet (Chris Pratt), an ordinary construction worker who does his best to conform to societal expectations in a seemingly perfect world. Unknown to him, the evil Lord Business (Will Ferrell) is planning to use a super weapon known as the Kragle to end the world. All that can stop this from happening is the Super, the one prophesized to stop Lord Business by using an object known as The Piece of Resistance. After an ordinary work day, Emmet stumbles across Wyldstyle (Elizabeth Banks), a woman searching for The Piece. Emmet follows her and ends up finding The Piece himself. He receives a vision that he is The Super, destined to stop Lord Business. Despite not seeming like anything special, Wyldstyle recruits Emmet for The Master Builders, a collection of Legos resisting Lord Business which includes the wizard Vitruvius (Morgan Freeman) and Batman (Will Arnett).

The most immediately striking thing about The Lego Movie is the animation style, which is designed to accurately emulate the way Legos move. It would have been much easier to design the Legos accurately and then just have them move normally, but Miller, Lord, and the animators have clearly put a lot of effort into matching the limitations of real Legos. It’s a very charming detail and it also leads to some strong comedic moments. This animation style might suggest the characters move very stiffly, but that really isn’t the case. There is an interesting to flow to the way characters move, so much so that the film even has some exciting action set-pieces. There isn’t much tension in these scenes given the circumstances, but they are a lot of fun.

While the story does seem like the basic “unorthodox chosen one” plot that’s been done before, there are a lot of details which really elevate the material. At its core, the film is about the pressure of conformity versus the desire of creativity. This is clearly symbolized by Lord Business’ efforts to separate the various different types of Legos and the Master Builders resistance to this, with Emmet caught in the middle. These may seem basic, but the film handles these themes in an intelligent way and the ultimate conclusion is not as obvious as one might think. There’s also some targeted satire of North American media which I appreciated. It isn’t a huge part of the film, but it’s clever and very funny.

Funny is probably the key word here since what really makes The Lego Movie special is its sense of humour. This is a very funny film which had me laughing consistently through. Much of this comes from the likable characters and the great voice work. Chris Pratt makes for a very sympathetic Emmet, and strong work is also done by Elizabeth Banks, Will Arnett, Morgan Freeman, Charlie Day, and Nick Offerman. There are a lot of great smaller parts too, like Channing Tatum and Jonah Hill as Superman and Green Lantern, plus a ton of other fun cameos. The visual gags are great and the writing is very witty. Granted, there are some jokes which miss, mostly for being a little juvenile and I found the unicorn-kitty character very annoying. These elements are outweighed by all the good things, but they are there and they do detract from the film.

My biggest issues with The Lego Movie actually stem from what many people have been quick to praise; the film’s twist and final twenty or so minutes. I won’t reveal any plot spoilers so this section might be a bit vague, but bear with me. I had already assumed the twist based on hints throughout the film and actually found it more interesting before it was revealed. After the twist, the script begins to really lay its themes on thick and have the characters flat out say the message of the film. I understand that this is a common trend with kids’ movies and in a lesser film I probably would not have cared, but The Lego Movie was operating on such a higher level that to have the film’s final moments be so obvious was rather jarring. I don’t hate this section of the film, I don’t even think it’s bad, but it’s not on the same level as the rest of the material.

Many critics have used the song “Everything is Awesome” from The Lego Movie as a way to describe the film. I don’t completely agree. The film has some weak jokes, an annoying character, and some problematic material in third act. Still, taken as whole The Lego Movie is an impressive and inspired work. If nothing else, the film deserves credit for being far better than it had any business being. This could have been a soulless cash grab made solely to profit off of the Lego name. Instead, The Lego Movie is a clever, well-made, and hilarious film which celebrates what makes Lego such a special toy in the first place. This is that rare kind of animated film which can truly be enjoyed by all ages. Truth be told, it’s hard to imagine someone not enjoying it on some level.

A-

Comments
  1. le0pard13 says:

    I fun movie whether the viewer is a fan of Lego or not.

  2. CMrok93 says:

    Good review Dan. There’s something in here for everyone and shows that not each and every animated movie has to just pander to just strictly kids, or just strictly adults. Sometimes, the lines can be blurred.

  3. ianthecool says:

    I’m with ya on the unicorn…

  4. Great review, loved this film. The cast the story where great and the ending was surprisingly deep. Chris Pratt is going to have a very promising career :D

  5. brikhaus says:

    The review was pretty close. It was a good movie, but it was lacking something. The final “twist” was indeed laying it on kind of thick.

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