Tuesday, September 23, 2014

The Lego Movie

Directed by Phil Lord and Christopher Miller.
2014. Rated PG, 100 minutes.
Chris Pratt
Elizabeth Banks
Morgan Freeman
Will Ferrell
Will Arnett
Liam Neeson
Nick Offerman
Alison Brie
Charlie Day
Channing Tatum
Jonah Hill
Cobie Smulders

As Lord Business (Ferrell) is defeating the wizard Vitruvius (Freeman) and taking the super-weapon known as The Kragle, he is informed of a prophecy stating that "The Special," the most amazing, interesting person who has ever lived, will find The Piece of Resistance, the one thing that can stop The Kragle. Fast forward eight and a half years. We meet the rule-loving, happy-go-lucky Emmet (Pratt). He quite literally falls into The Piece of Resistance while staring at Wyldstyle (Banks), the most beautiful girl he's ever seen. Believing Emmet to be "The Special", Wyldstyle quickly snatches him up, informs him of the prophecy and Lord Business', now President Business, plan to destroy the world on Taco Tuesday. There's just one little problem. Emmet is not the most amazing, interesting person of all time. In fact, most people who come into contact with him on a daily basis barely remember him. Besides that, Emmet doesn't seem to be particularly bright. Nevertheless, with the help of Vitruvius and, somehow, Batman (Arnett), Emmet and Wyldstyle trying to stop President Business ensues.

From the very beginning, we witness the greatest strength of The Lego Movie. It's taking the things we love about some of the most iconic movie franchises and making fun of them while still integrating them into its own wonderful story. The most frequent targets are Peter Jackson's Lord of the Rings trilogy (plus The Hobbit, I suppose), Christopher Nolan's The Dark Knight trilogy, and more subtly, The Wachowski's The Matrix trilogy. For good measure, it takes healthy swipes at George Lucas' Star Wars franchise, too. Lots of movies have done similar things. The difference here is that just about every joke is spot-on. They all perfectly capture the essence of whatever it is skewering and are all flat out funny. Maybe it's because I've seen most of these movies multiple times, and I'm just a geek at heart (more on that, later), but I seriously laughed for every single minute of this movie's run time.

Once we're consistently giggling, it's easier for us to buy in to the plot and whatever messages it is pushing. In this case, both are pretty standard things. We've already covered the plot. As far as the message goes, the movie sings of the virtues of maintaining one's individuality and creativity in an increasingly homogeneous society. The magic of it all is how well they work in concert with one another and with the humor. This takes the edge off. Where other movies may come off as heavy-handed, this one seamlessly weaves in its commentary. Then, to keep us on our toes, it throws us a nice third act curve ball, adding yet another dimension to the movie, literally.

Other big reasons for our enjoyment are both the film's look and the voice work by its actors. The look nicely mimics actual legos and mixes it with more familiar computer generated imagery. It's amazing to see fluid, moving things such as fire and water made of legos. Better than that, though, are the many bursts of color that happen during the movie, particularly its action scenes. As for the voice acting, it's great all the way around. Of course, Morgan Freeman is a standout. So are Chris Pratt as Emmet and Elizabeth Banks as Wyldstyle. Regardless of how good they are, they all pale in comparison to what Will Arnett does with the role of Batman. He perfectly pulls off what the movie is trying to accomplish with the character.

If there is an issue with The Lego Movie, it's that much of the humor might fly over the heads of the kids who believe this movie is for them. As mentioned, there is lots of referencing of other things. They may not always connect the dots. People who, God forbid, aren't familiar with those other things might have the same issue. Luckily, it's still plenty of fun so no one should be bored by it. I take that back if you're just too cool for this sort of thing. This brings me back to my own household and my own geekiness. My wife enjoyed it, but not nearly as much as I. A lot of the little things that cracked me up flew right by her. She's familiar with the franchises I mentioned earlier, but not intimately so. She's seen them and likes them well enough, but doesn't have the same connection with them that I do. My kids are teenagers. They are either too young for many of the jokes or just think it's all about nerd stuff. Yes, they freely told me I was lame. I replied that they just didn't get it and that this is easily the best animated movie since Toy Story 3. None of this changed their opinions, but it felt good getting it off my chest. Nor did it help that, at the time, I so happened to be wearing a Green Lantern t-shirt. They just rolled their eyes and walked away as I cheerfully sang a medley of "Everything is Awesome" and "Batman" that was desperately in need of auto-tuning.


  1. This movie was a pretty big hit in my house. My son just turned 3, and he's always singing the Everything is Awesome song, or calling something "Hippy dippy bologna."

    1. My wife thought it was okay, but my 2 teens thought it was corny. My tween acted like she felt the same as her siblings, but I caught her watching it by herself a couple days later, lol.

  2. I enjoyed this movie a lot Wendell and I did laugh at some of the parts of the jokes they did. Also, I do agree with you that this is one of the best animation movies that I have seen since I have saw Toy Story 3.

    1. Thank you! I just think its amazing in every way. Glad someone else sees things my way.

  3. Great read. Sounds like a blast. I really need to catch up with this one!

    1. Thanks. At the risk of overdoing it, I'll say that it is indeed a blast.