by Bob Garver
If I could sum up the appeal of “The Lego Movie” in one word, that word would be “detail.” There are so many intricacies and hidden treasures stuffed into every second of this film that it’s easy to forget the delightful movie that’s right in front of your face. It’s perfectly fine to enjoy the film at face value, but this film is going to earn itself a fan base that enjoys it for much more than that.
These fans are going to watch the film frame by frame, catching all the subtle jokes, hidden messages, complex designs and extensive cameos. In an animated film based on a line of toy bricks and other bric-a-brac, I suppose it’s appropriate to say that not a brick is wasted.
The plot is pretty standard for a kids’ movie. An everyman named Emmet (Chris Pratt) discovers that he fulfills an ancient prophecy and somehow he’s so special that only he can save the world. Nobody believes this, especially himself. But his positivity and resilience pay off and it turns out that he does have something to offer. Other characters include a love interest (Elizabeth Banks) and a mentor (Morgan Freeman). And of course there is a villain, the evil Lord Business (Will Ferrell), who wants to control the Lego universe with a weapon called the Kragle. It’s a bit of a plot hole that Lord Business’s plan to use the Kragle to drench everybody is not going to have its intended effect; he needs to use it with more finesse if he’s serious about succeeding.
I’m not sure what to make of the animation. On one hand, it’s incredibly awkward, especially when it comes to the characters’ movements. Lego characters just aren’t built for mobility. But then again the movie needs to be given credit for doing absolutely everything it can with the clumsy physiques. This is a movie whose look has to play by an odd set of rules, but it’s a better movie for sticking to them. The scenery, of course, is all excellent Lego designs.
A lot has been made of the film containing characters from multiple franchises and properties. The good news is that you get to see Batman, Superman, Green Lantern, Wonder Woman, Gandalf, Dumbledore, William Shakespeare, Abraham Lincoln, Shaquille O’Neal and plenty of others (there are some big surprises) in the same movie. The bad news is that there’s disappointingly little interaction between them. If you’re expecting this to be an unofficial “Justice League” movie, you will not be happy.
The humor is chaotic and constant. Perhaps it skews a bit too young at times, but there are plenty of jokes for all ages. My favorite gags are just the details of Emmett’s everyday life, as little by little we become accustomed to his silly world. I also liked the voice work of Liam Neeson as a henchman with a split personality who’s always arguing with himself. There are a ton of other funny moments, these are just the first that came to mind.
I don’t want to give away too much about the last act of the movie, but there’s no way I can’t mention it at all. You can probably guess what it involves based on some fuzzy mythology mentioned early in the film, but I had no idea it would play out the way it does. The sequence contains one of the saddest scenes I’ve ever seen in a movie, kids’ or otherwise. “The Lego Movie” doesn’t seem like a film that would make such an emotional impact, but believe me, it does.
“The Lego Movie” is going to become a classic. It’s being seen by a lot of people right out of the gate, it will be seen by a lot more people through its reputation, and it will be seen many more times on repeat viewings. This generation has found its “Toy Story.”
Three and a Half Stars out of Five.
The film is rated PG for mild action and rude humor. Its running time is 100 minutes.
Contact Bob Garver at email@example.com.