The LEGO Movie
Director: Phil Lord, Chris Miller
Writers: Phil Lord, Chris Miller
Cast: Chris Pratt, Elizabeth Banks, Will Ferrell, Morgan Freeman, Will Arnett, Liam Neeson, Nick Offerman
Warner Bros. Pictures
Rated PG | 100 Minutes
Release Date: January 7, 2013
“A LEGO movie? Really?” Yes, really. Why? Because children spend an estimated five billion hours a year playing with those colorful plastic bricks.
In fact, seven LEGO sets are sold by retailers every second around the world and more than 560 billion LEGO pieces have been produced since the company began manufacturing the interlocking toy bricks in 1949.
Artists have used LEGO bricks to create artwork for decades, so why not give filmmakers and visual effects artists the chance to play with the popular building blocks and create their own stories?
Written and directed by Phil Lord and Chris Miller (21 Jump Street, Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs), The LEGO Movie stars Chris Pratt (Parks and Recreation) as Emmet, an ordinary mini-figure who is mistaken for the Special – a Master Builder destined to save the LEGO universe.
With the help of a wizard named Vitruvius (Morgan Freeman), a punk rock builder named Wyldstyle (Elizabeth Banks), Batman (Will Arnett), and a robo-pirate named Metalbeard (Nick Offerman), Emmet throws the instructions away and discovers the power of imagination to defeat the evil tyrant Lord Business (Will Ferrell), who is heck-bent on destroying the LEGO universe on “Taco Tuesday” and rebuilding it as he sees fit.
In the vein of films like Toy Story and Wreck-It Ralph, The LEGO Movie is everything you want in an animated adventure. With gorgeous animation, a charming voice cast, a clever script filled with witty banter, and a surprisingly heartfelt story, The LEGO Movie is one of the coolest, most imaginative movies I’ve seen in a considerable amount of time. Flicks like Scott Pilgrim Vs. the World and The Cabin in the Woods come to mind when I think about how awesome, refreshing, and funny this movie is.
It would be easy to dismiss The LEGO Movie as just another big-budget toy commercial like Transformers or Battleship, but the filmmakers utilize LEGO bricks as a medium, not a brand. While the film is computer-animated, it simulates the stop-motion videos that thousands of LEGO builders have created with their bricks and posted online. If you were to pause the film at any point, you could recreate that entire scene with enough time and bricks. That’s pretty damn cool.
Being that this is a Warner Bros. film, and LEGO has licensed themes from numerous franchises, all kinds of characters show up. There’s Gandalf, Dumbledore, Michelangelo (the renaissance painter), Michelangelo (the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle); and appearances by Star Wars characters, NBA all-stars, and even Milhouse from The Simpsons.
Unfortunately, because this is a Warner Bros. film, there are no Marvel superheroes in the movie (even though LEGO has the license); instead, we get DC’s Justice League: Batman, Superman (Channing Tatum), Green Lantern (Jonah Hill), and Wonder Woman (Cobie Smulders). While it would be great to see Arnett’s Batman argue with Iron Man about who has more LEGO gold, or Superman team-up with Captain America, Warner Bros. (who owns DC Comics) doesn’t want to give their main competitor screen time.
Still, there are more than enough characters and funny cameos to bring to life the idea of a LEGO universe. This candy-colored adventure is also a subversive social satire that deconstructs pop culture and the modern blockbuster. Lord and Miller have created an endlessly silly, entertaining movie for children and adults alike that preaches an individual’s imagination can overcome social and cultural oppression – an important concept for all ages.
I cannot recommend The LEGO Movie enough. It’s visually astounding, and way more clever and funny and downright delightful than a 100-minute “toy commercial” needs to be. As the film’s theme song by Tegan and Sara proclaims, “Everything is Awesome.”
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