THE LEGO MOVIE
**** (out of 5)
February 7, 2014
Chris Pratt as EMMET
Will Ferrell as LORD BUSINESS
Elizabeth Banks as WYLDSTYLE
Will Arnett as BATMAN
Morgan Freeman as VITRUVIUS
Liam Neeson as BAD COP
Studio: Warner Bros.
Directed by: Phil Lord, Christopher Miller
BY KEVIN CARR
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As a child and as a parent, I know the great joy and the great pain of Legos. Fortunately, the great pain only comes from stepping on those tiny bricks in the dark with your bare feet. The joy the can bring seems endless in comparison.
Like most boys, I grew up playing with Legos. Now, my kids play with them. Over the years, the brand has seriously diversified compared to how things were in my childhood. There are Lego character tie-ins for popular media brands such as Star Wars, DC Comics and Marvel. Pick a character in popular culture, and there’s a good chance there’s a Lego for it (or, at the very least, can be cobbled together from existing parts).
Today, they aren’t just toys. The company has built entire universes on these characters, making video games and animated specials on the Cartoon Network. If you haven’t taken a look at these things, they are worth checking out. The joy of these ancillary non-brick products is found in the irreverent humor and whimsy they bring to existing brands.
Now, those elements have been assembled into a feature film: “The Lego Movie.” Directed by Phil Lord and Christopher Miller, who gave us “Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs” and “21 Jump Street,” and they bring their irreverent brand of humor to the film. Rather than being just a standard kids movie, “The Lego Movie” works to appeal to the parents in the crowd and not just the kids.
This is the key to its success. Like “Frozen,” “The Lego Movie” is the kind of film that kids are going to demand to see because it speaks to them. However, parents aren’t going to roll their eyes at them and suffer through it. They will secretly want to go, and they should have just as much fun watching it as – if not more than – the children in the audience.
The story followed Emmet (Chris Pratt), a lowly construction worker who finds himself in the middle of a prophecy. A mysterious woman named Wyldstyle (Elizabeth Banks) thinks he’s “The Special,” which is a savior to the people of the Lego world who can defeat the dastardly Lord Business (Will Ferrell). She takes Emmet to the Master Builders of the different Lego worlds with hopes that he will lead them to victory.
However, all that story isn’t as important as the fun you’ll have as the movie rolls along. The voice cast is superb, featuring some great cameos and casting to and against type. The film also takes full advantage of is associated brands, in particular the Warner Bros. properties like the DC superheroes. Heck, Batman (Will Arnett) has a supporting role throughout the film, delivering some of the funniest lines around.
If you’ve seen the trailer, don’t be fooled into thinking that all the funniest parts are in there. While the trailers are funny, there are still plenty of surprises and gags throughout the film. The film itself is so packed with pop culture references, irreverent humor, silly elements and jokes that only the parents will fully understand. It revels in its silliness, but it never gets so into the joke that the movie itself becomes one.
But even more than the fun and games, there’s a great amount of heart to the film. Sure, you’ll find messages that seem to permeate every animated film out there aimed at kids (but then again, you’ll find the same things in “Frozen” and all three “Toy Story” movies). It’s how they work them into the film that is impressive. Rather than hammer home a trite message, however, it is presented with a wink and a nod. The movie knows we’ve been through this before, and it smiles at us as it wraps its warmth and fuzziness in a self-aware package.
“The Lego Movie” is the first really awesome film of 2014. If you’re old enough to play with the toys, it’s a must-see, and there’s no age too old for the film.