Review

The success of The Lego Movie, both commercially and critically, is well-documented by now.  A sequel already has a confirmed release date as the filmmakers look to build on the success of this well-balanced, well-voiced, and visually stunning adventure that can be enjoyed by all ages. Directed by Phil Lord and Christopher Miller (Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs21/22 Jump Street), with an all-star voice cast that features Chris Pratt as our lead protagonist Emmet Brickowski.  Emmet is your average “guy” in the city, listening to top 40 radio, always following directions, and living his life in a way that is all about conformity, as President Business (Will Ferrell) wants.  Lord Business, as he is also known, runs the world and hates creativity.  Lord Business plans to use the Kragle to freeze the universe in place so it’ll be his design.  Emmet finds out after an encounter with Wyldstyle (Elizabeth Banks), that he is the “special” one and destined to save the world.  Together with Wyldstyle, Batman (Will Arnett), Benny (Charlie Day), and Vitruvius (Morgan Freeman), Emmet leads the crew to stop Lord Business, and uses the piece of resistance to stop the Kragle from freezing the world in place.

I was never sold on the idea of The Lego Movie.  I am not a huge fan of animated movies, so I thought that I most likely wouldn’t enjoy it.  Even after all the good reviews kept pouring out, I was still hesitant, but after three consecutive weeks number one at the box office I knew I had to give it a shot.  While certainly aimed for younger audiences, fans of all ages will enjoy.  Everyone has played with Legos at some point in their life, so there is that sense of nostalgia floating around the entire film.  More than that, however, is a great script that captures the themes of going against the grain and celebrating individualism.  While not the deepest movie, the themes and subtle references are enough to hold the attention of an adult, while remaining goofy enough to be loved by kids.  On the visual front, it’s certainly a movie that will hold the attention of people of all ages.

Visually, The Lego Movie is stunning, as it uses both CGI and classic stop motion to create effects that bring you into the world of Legos.  From the water being tiny pieces of Legos that come out of the faucets, to the huge set pieces of city life, Phil Lord and Chris Miller did a fantastic job using the Legos in clever ways that along with the 3d, make  you feel like you’re actually there.  The scenes move from one set to the next, some more intricate than others, but all clever, and this adds to the grand scope of our hero’s journey.

The actors do a great job in lending their voices to these characters, and use the limitations of Lego pieces as funny setups for jokes and conversations.  More than once I found myself laughing out loud, and completely bought it as a feel-good movie.  This is the movie that’s in every kids head, just laid out and voiced by some very funny actors.  Jonah Hill as The Green Lantern and Channing Tatum as Superman were small but funny moments in the movie.  Luckily they didn’t over-cram the movie with all the properties they own (especially their superhero properties), but instead sprinkled them in along Emmet’s journey.  Batman, voiced brilliantly by Will Arnett, was the funniest character in the film, and with many great performances that’s saying a lot.  Liam Neeson as Lord Business’s henchman Bad Cop/Good Cop comes in a close second behind Batman as the funniest character in the film, flipping between his two personalities.

The success of The Lego Movie may lead to an influx of board game and toy movies, but it’s important to remember why this movie in particular worked and didn’t succeed on the brand alone.  The script is smart and can be enjoyed by the entire family.  You can tell a lot of time and money went into building the Lego universe, and it both shows and pays off for the audience to become fully engaged in the action.  You also need a cast that is almost perfect for their roles.  Animated films don’t necessarily need star-studded casts, but as The Lego Movie shows, it can absolutely add to the film’s value.  People that were excited about The Lego Movie have most likely already seen the film, but if you were like me and on the fence about how much enjoyment you’d get out of the movie, it’s safe to say you will have fun during the 100 minute run time.  Hopefully they take a similar approach to the sequel, and maybe other toy/80′s properties need to bring in directors Phil Lord and Chris Miller to flip the ideas into funny, action packed, and contemporary iterations of beloved toy properties that will inevitably be made into Hollywood movies.

The Lego Movie is now playing in theaters everywhere.



About the Author

Peter Towe
Peter Towe
A graduate of UMASS Boston, I have successfully put off getting a "real" job, and continue to watch, produce, review, and obsess over movies. I lived in Boston while I completed my degree, and now live in Chicago trying the improv thing.