It’s only February and this is the 3rd movie review we’re posting in a row – we’re either in some twilight zone or suddenly “winter” has become the summer for us malcontents. At any rate – The Lego Movie is one film I’ve been dying to see the more they gave sneaks to it … but just like remembering how much fun Lego was in our youth (or, if you’re so inclined, is your current age) is The Lego Movie (opening tomorrow, Feb 6) a “block buster”, or does it give one the feeling of stepping on Lego bricks?
Building a movie about Lego must not be easy: Not only do you have young fans to entertain, you also have legions of older Lego collectors to please. Still, Lego has seen lots of success with their gaming line – the latest, Lego Marvel Super Heroes, is a blast, which means there is a very high bar that has been set.
The Lego Movie is the story of Emmet Brickowoski (Parks And Recreation’s soon to be ultra movie star and Galaxy Guardian Chris Pratt), a regular rule-following minifig who turns out to be the Special – if Vitruvius’ (Morgan Freeman) prophecy is to be believed. The evil Lord Business (Will Ferrell) aims to consolidate power over the Lego universe on Taco Tuesday by unleashing the horrible Kragle … and only the Piece Of Resistance, with the help of the Special, can stop it. Problem is, Emmet’s just a regular Joe, and unlike the Master Builders like Batman (Will Arnett), Wyldstyle (Elizabeth Banks), Metal Beard (More Parks and Rec with Nick Offerman) and Unikitty (Community’s Alison Brie), Emmet doesn’t look like he has the bricks to save the day …
If it sounds silly, and even a little contrived, that’s because it is – to be harsh, The Lego Movie’s plot isn’t going to win any awards in the realm of man(minifig)-rises-from-obscurity-to-save-the-known-universe stories (what’s the trope called? Oh yes – the Unlikely Hero). But to reduce it to this will be to do a great disservice: The Lego Movie is some of the best flat-out fun I’ve had in a cinema for a while.
There is so much fast-paced infectious glee that the 100min goes by with countless jokes, puns and sight gags – it’s impossible to take it all in within the first viewing, and I’m sure the creators have hidden tons of easter eggs throughout. The humour is often laugh-out-loud funny, sometimes cheesy, but rarely falls flat. Barely is there a moment where you’ll be bored, and the somewhat thin plot is quickly forgotten as they throw layer upon layer of bricks to make the movie, well, more than the sum of its bricks.
This works because of the heart and the reverence and the love the movie shows to its source material – from the Master Builders calling up parts with their Lego product numbers, to references to many of Lego’s multiple product lines (no Marvel though – so no Marvel vs DC on screen yet!). One character – from a very recently announced and released series of Lego – even makes an appearance, and it was a pleasant surprise for the movie to acknowledge something so up to date. Even the minor details, from how the characters move like they’re stop-motion animated (Brickfilm style) to how everything shows on screen is made from a brick, even a swirly miasma that looks like just swirly colours from far.
I’m pretty certain that every Lego fan (except maybe the most rabid, difficult to please sort) will enjoy it – but how about the young ones? Swirly miasma and some other crazy sequences that aren’t usually found in a kid’s movie might make it seem like the movie can get quite obtuse (the moment where Emmet gets the Piece is more Adventure Time than My Little Pony), but there’s so much colour and fun that throughout the preview screening there wasn’t a restless kid to be heard. And after the movie? The toilet was filled with kids singing the “Everything Is Awesome” theme song by Tegan And Sara (and featuring The Lonely Island!) – so mission complete, I’d say.
It’s also not all about the fun: Things get meta when you realise that what the movie is actually taking aim at certain Lego fans. (Slight spoilers:) Emmet is a regular Joe who’s used to following the rules (aka, those who build what’s on the box), while the Master Builders are able to create brand new constructs. The question, then, is what we use our Legos for – to just connect the dots, or to build something that is bigger, more creative, and more awesome? It’s a weighty question, given that Legos are oftentimes designed to be wonderful realisations of other objects in brick form to begin with. (End spoiler.)
It actually gets very very meta (some might find it too weird), but in general it’s done with subtlety, and there’s a point to it all. It’s just that some Lego collectors might actually take umbrage at what the show is suggesting.
I can’t help but feel happy after watching The Lego Movie. This is family friendly fare that never talks down to its audience, but would just love to spread the awesome Lego vibe all around. The movie could have easily been as painful as stepping on a brick, but thankfully it teeters on the side of just enough cheese and schmaltz to make a great family friendly film. As the minifigs would put it: “Everything is awesome!” And I have to agree.