The Lego Movie
Directed by: Phil Lord & Chris Miller Cast: (Voices of) Chris Pratt, Will Ferrell, Elizabeth Banks, Alison Brie, Nick Offerman Running Time: 1 hr 40 mins Rating: PG Release Date: February 7, 2014
PLOT: An ordinary construction worker (Pratt) is thought to be a messiah of his Lego society when he becomes stuck to a prophetic red thing.
WHO'S IT FOR? If you believe that Toy Story movies are for everyone, you'll feel the same way for The Lego Movie.
Crafted with the imagination of an uncorrupted mind making a 60-million-dollar home movie with Legos, The Lego Movie is an excellent piece of marketing for its title product. Contrary to numerous other films that are dumped out unto our non-yellow-handed world, such a statement actually comes without cynicism. Here is a sugary blast that's actually good for you, a dosage of utter happiness that clings to creativity and uniqueness like it was trying to brainwash people into being, yeah I'm going to say it, awesome.
The expansiveness of the Lego Universe is certainly pronounced. There are various landscapes and what seems like hundreds of different characters, where different brands that have been given the mini yellow body treatment themselves are involved in unexpected cameos (like DC Comics, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, Harry Potter, Star Wars). Keeping to the nature of the film, such brands are often utilized creatively, within geeky jokes during cameos, without tired or cruel pop culture gags to be found. Movie dialogue references find their way in as well, playing against cliche lines that might have been misplaced from their original source from history, but parodying their significance nonetheless ("Come with me if you want to not die"). Lord & Miller, who were able to pull off a surprising Johnny Depp cameo in 21 Jump Street, not to mention a modern R-rated adaptation of "21 Jump Street," cement themselves as inspired pop culture nerds (along with their team) who are hip to the geek jive.
The playfulness of the film is celebrated with its voice acting, with notable names creating characters that nicely toy with archetype. Liam Neeson, seen just a few weeks ago as a generic evil raccoon in The Nut Job, has a visible amount of fun with the good cop/bad cop type. Pratt especially has fresh, adorable dopeyness. Introduced like Pee-Wee Herman , his anti-messiah Emmet is an endearing surrogate into the bigger ideas of the Lego world.
Waving unabashed creativity as its self-amusing flag, The Lego Movie has its own homegrown ingenuity as well, utilizing a captivating stop-motion-like animation in the creation of settings, characters, costumes, automobiles etc., both familiar and completely new. As one may expect, creativity by the characters themselves becomes a key component as well. Construction of various things, gadgets, and other bric-a-brac becomes an important aspect within sequences but also makes for an exciting spectacle in itself, allowing the movie to play out with its own surpising bounds of logic.
Even when following the requirements to have a message for a film that can appeal directly to kids (but not only for kids), The Lego Movie offers a message of teamwork and individualism that is genuine for a story, even with so many films recently released about underdog heroes who become a part of a group. The Lego Movie differs from others for what it says about an entire civilization, warning viewers of all ages against the complacency in becoming just another goosestepping (the movie's only WTF aspect) yellow piece. And in keeping with Lord & Miller's attitudes towards corporations and over-consumption (as from their previous animation buzz Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs), there are some funny yet specific points made as well (Will Ferrell plays a character named "President Business," Pratt's Emmet says that his favorite restaurant is "any chain restaurant," etc.)
But most importantly, The Lego Movie stands from other films adapted from toys or various childhood brands with the importance of its ideology, something that goes to the very core of even how the film tells its story. As plain as telling viewers to think outside of "the instructions" may be, referring to The Lego Movie's adversary of creativity and teamwork, it invents a new impression of the construction toys. It is both a reflection and a reinvention of the purpose behind the brand, especially to those who spent years duplicating what is on the box for means of achieving the more normal, now boring, type of success.
FINAL SCORE: 9/10