Directors: Phil Lord, Christopher Miller
Writers: Dan Hageman, Kevin Hageman, Phil Lord, Christopher Miller
Starring: Will Arnett, Elizabeth Banks, Will Ferrell, Morgan Freeman, Chris Pratt, Liam Neeson
Release Date: February 7, 2014
Runtime: 1 hr. 40 mins.
MPAA Rating: PG
Warner Brothers’ new animated release The Lego Movie marks the first time the popular toy has been the focus of a feature length film. While Lego has enjoyed a string of successful video games over the last several years, how well do building blocks translate to the big screen? Click through to find out after the break.
While ostensibly a children’s film, The Lego Movie has something for everyone. It tells the story of regular guy Emmett Brickowoski (Chris Pratt), a construction worker who lives and builds in the seemingly idyllic city of Bricksburg. One evening after the site he’s working on has shut down, he sees an intruder – Wyldstyle (Elizabeth Banks) – and threatens to call the authorities. Before he can, he sees her and is in instant smit (to paraphrase Mike Myers in So I Married an Axe Murderer). He stumbles down a pit, falls for ages, and finds a mysterious glowing red object – the Piece of Resistance – which ironically, he is unable to resist touching. This is an object shown to us in the cold open, when the wizard Vitruvius (Morgan Freeman) tries to prevent evil overlord/businessman Lord Business (Will Ferrell) from taking the Kragle, the ultimate weapon that just may destroy the world. As it is stolen, Vitruvius reveals a prophecy that one day a unique person, called “the Special,” will find the Piece of Resistance and use it to stop the Kragle. Guess Emmett isn’t so normal after all.
Lord Business, known in the world of Bricksburg as President Business, intends to destroy the world in three days, and Wyldstyle does everything she can to ensure that Emmett – the Piece of Resistance now firmly attached to his back – can meet Vitruvius and learn how to save the world. There are some great turns here from the Good Cop/Bad Cop (Liam Neeson) chasing Emmett, a helpful hybrid Unicorn/cat named Unikitty (Alison Brie) who is far, far too happy, Wyldstyle’s less than attentive boyfriend, Batman (Will Arnett), a mostly prostheticized pirate named Metal Beard (brilliantly voiced by Nick Offerman), and a supporting cast of heroes both literary and not, as well as a few throwbacks to earlier eras of Lego toys (Jake Johnson as Barry, a 1980s era astronaut, was particularly nostalgic for me). They all try to help, or to hinder, Emmett in his quest to become a Master Builder, someone who is capable of manipulating his environment in order to build what is needed in a given moment, and to help him fulfill the prophecy and prevent Lord/President Business from unleashing the Kragle.
The story is full of great running jokes, and some very funny one-liners (a favorite: when faced with a leaking submarine, Unikitty’s forced happiness won’t let her point it out directly; instead, she says, “Oh look, the walls are crying.”) There’s a cute love story that plays on several romantic tropes, worlds that reflect urban life, a stylized wild west, a happy land of rainbows and puppies (and Unikitty, of course), and a few surprises as well. This will all work well toward the marketing of an endless string of new toys and Lego sets, and the movie even plays with this a bit, when Vitruvius occasionally drops into a litany of possible model sets they could use to help them fight Lord Business. There’s a cool framing narrative around the whole story, but I won’t spoil any of that – instead, go and see this movie if you haven’t already done so. The movie is excellent, certainly one of the best so far this year, and it made me want to dig out my old Lego sets from the boxes they’ve been in for years (see, the marketing aspect works well). Little ones get a big bang for their (parents’) buck, as attested to by my four-year old’s question this evening: “When will we go see The Lego Movie again?” It’s a further testament to the excellence of this film that my first thought was “How about tonight?”
Steve’s Grade: A
A great family film that has a little something for everyone. Don’t bother trying to borrow a child to take – go ahead and see this movie, no excuses needed.
Added Bonus – Here’s a cool little blooper reel released after the movie came out last week: