(By Patricia Leblanc)
Whatever you do, don’t mindlessly scoff at the idea of a 100-minute long film about Legos, as I did when I first saw the trailer. “Great” I thought, “Another spin-off hour-long commercial filled with dumb, immature comedy just to be able to sell more toys to boys.”
But admit it, like myself, you got curious about it once you saw that Rotten Tomatoes ranked it at 96% (What?! The same score as 12 Years a Slave?!?!), that Metacritic gave it a very decent score of 82, and that the picky IMDB users gave it a 8.2 out of 10. Weird. Guys, it’s an animated film about bricks marketed for little boys, how good can this movie get?
My curiosity got the better of me and I went to see The Lego Movie (2014) with my boyfriend on Valentine’s Day (yes, I’m just a romantic like that). The audience was evenly split with adults and kids and both age groups laughed out loud for all the right places.
Emmet (voiced by Chris Pratt) is a typical, ordinary Lego builder who is responsible for making the large, square skyscrapers that populate a city led by Lord Business (Will Ferrell), an evil mastermind bent on super gluing all of the Lego bricks together making the landscape perfect and permanent. Once rocking female tough-girl Wyldstyle (Elizabeth Banks) mistakes Emmet for being the MasterBuilder, they team up with other hilarious characters to save the Lego world from Lord Business’s weapon the Kragle.
The animation of Warner Brothers Studios (The Warner Animation Group) is a spot-on choppy stop-motion animation reflecting the constrained movement unique the real-life Lego toys. This film is in fact the group’s first release animated by Animal Logic using Lego Digital Designer and Autodesk Maya as the animation technologies. They were spot-on, down to the little clicking noises Lego’s make when they walk around. You can tell the animators had a lot of fun animating the Lego blocks world.
For those of you familiar with Phil Lord and Christopher Miller, writers and co-directors of Cloudy with a Chance of Meetballs (2009), you can expect intelligent humor that you’ll enjoy as much as your kids. There are also a multitude of references to other familiar films and characters coupled with guest star voices. Morgan Freeman gives voice to the guiding, blind wizard Vitruvius, a good-natured nod to the multitude of wise characters he had done in the past. A Batman character (Will Arnett), Wyldstyle’s independent boyfriend, refuses to build anything that doesn’t have the bat-logo on it. The annoying and inept Green Lantern (voiced by Jonah Hill) continually tries to help Superman (Channing Tatum) but inevitably puts him in bigger trouble than he was in the first place. The is even an appearance of Shaq (voiced by the real guy) from the actual 2003 NBA-sanctioned Lego set and more from the worlds of Harry Potter, Star Wars and the Lord of the Rings.
With the presence of all of these well-known characters of pop culture, it’s hard not to poke fun at the familiar formula of action blockbuster films. The Lego Movie replicates almost all clichéd plot points in existence in a satirical sort of way and includes some of our “normalities “from the “real world”. Emmet is ecstatic about living in a city with overpriced coffee, where the hit TV show is aptly called “Where are my pants?,” and routine is a must. Hit pop song “Everything is awesome” plays its catchy beat constantly, boring the fact that everything is going great and to not ever question that. Emmet simply follows instructions, and is lost if he must think for himself.
But most surprising of all is that there is an actual intelligent story behind all the jokes. The Lego toys pride themselves in promoting imagination within kids, permitting them to assemble as many structures as you can think of with the little square bricks. And why would you want to take all that free thought away by gluing all the pieces together to fit some perfect ideal?
All in all, this film is worth your time, even if it you are over the age of 9, even if it is a 100-minute long commercial for Legos deep down (at least 12 new Lego kits containing the new characters of the movie were released), even you secretly despise Legos from repeatedly stepping on your son’s misplaced blocks in the middle of the night. The Lego Movie is a fun, light hearted, start-studded film with many surprises that will have you smiling even after leaving your seat.