When I first heard about The Lego Movie I was skeptical to say the least. Would I have any desire to watch a two hour commercial for something as ubiquitous as Legos? Would there be any possible way to make something coherent and entertaining from… what? Then the trailer was released… and the reviews began pouring in… and the word of mouth spread… not only was The Lego Movie good, it was enjoyable for everyone. I finally had to see it for myself.
I am happy to say, yes, The Lego Movie is a wonderfully adorable and funny film that delivers a somewhat cliche message in a wholly unique and clever way. The jokes are so plentiful that I imagine you could see the movie a few times and continue to find something new and wonderful within each frame… but it is the casting that is what makes this film work in ways that I never could have conceived.
Emmet (Chris Pratt) is a Lego everyman… a generic construction worker in a generic Lego town. He builds and rebuilds Lego buildings precisely to code, meaning he follows every Lego instruction perfectly. Life is awesome in Bricksville, and the accompanying song “Everything is Awesome” makes sure you know just how wonderful life is when you follow the instructions and do exactly everything you are meant to do. But sadly, Emmet has no one to call a friend… and is such an everyman, he has trouble standing out. Only when Emmet sees Wyldstyle (Elizabeth Banks) does he realize that there may be something more to his generic life… and from there the adventure begins.
At this point there is a MacGuffin of sorts, and the plot begins to flesh out. President Business (Will Ferrell) has plans for Bricksville, and in the opening of the film before meeting Emmet, we are introduced to “Lord” Business as he does battle with Vitruvius (Morgan Freeman), and a prophecy is born… there will be one person, so special, so unique, that he will discover the Piece of Resistance and defeat the “Cragle” and become the most important person in the universe… and of course, that person is Emmet.
Thus begins the hero’s journey… the most ordinary person must become the “Special”, and along the way he picks up an assortment of compatriots that guide him through this ever widening universe until he eventually discovers the true meaning of imagination. It is this supporting cast that helps make this movie something special… Will Arnett as Batman basically steals the show, but rounding out the impressive cast is Johan Hill (Green Lantern), Alison Brie (Unikitty), Nick Offerman (Metal Beard), and a hilariously schizophrenic performance as Good Cop/Bad Cop from Liam Neeson. These are but a tiny fraction of the huge cast that makes up The Lego Movie, but each performance is so well written, and perfectly suited to the actors portraying them that nothing ever seems out of place.
Directed by Phil Lord and Chris Miller, the pair who brought us 21 Jump Street and Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs, they bring such an expert understanding of frenetic story telling, and a barrage of visual gags, that it is impressive how they manage to cram so much into such a short amount of time. And most impressive to me is how they play around with our very understanding of Legos and the very specific world that they exist in, including the various licensed products and how they might all fit into one universe; whether you are talking about pirates, construction workers, DC comic heroes, or creatures created from the imagination of Ritalin fueled eight year olds… they all have a place, and there is something unique about each and every one of them.
Not only do they play around with our expectations of Legos, they also play around with the expectations we have of each of the actors. Morgan Freeman for instance plays a bit of a sage-like mystic, similar to his many roles as God… Will Arnett plays his usual smug asshole, only this time it’s in the guise of Batman, which simply fits… and Will Ferrell… well, Will Ferrell does what Will Ferrell does, makes you chuckle with a clever twist of pronunciation and using his outsized ego persona to mine laugh after laugh.
As mentioned before, there is something very cliche about the message… and although the reviews have been spectacular, don’t walk into this thinking that you are watching a revolutionary film that will change the way you see everything… it won’t. What it will do is entertain you, and that is more than I would have expected when I first heard about The Lego Movie. But the best outcome, and I would venture a guess that this was the ultimate intention of the movie, is that the moment my daughters got home from the theater they busted out the Legos and went about digging into those imaginations. Cliche or not, that is what it’s all about.
Naturally, something this inherently tongue in cheek is going to have a “blooper reel”. Enjoy.
Things are about to get very meta up in here,
Cornelius J. Blahg