by Coop Cooper
Anyone who reads my weekly articles knows I often avoid reviewing rated G and PG films. Most kids are easily entertained and having them read my review of “The Lorax” where I theorize the film represents a political ideology, probably isn’t going to dissuade them from wanting to see fluffy Dr. Seuss creatures. The review would actually be for the parents who would probably appreciate knowing if the film is laden with incessant bathroom humor or if the disturbing nature of the story might make little Timmy cry. Sorry parents, but with a few exceptions (see my review of the wonderful “How to Train Your Dragon 2”), I’m not often willing to take one for the team when there are so many other, interesting offers out there. But every once in awhile when I get enough recommendations from those whose opinion I trust to see a children’s-film, I can’t ignore it. For this reason, I watched “The Lego Movie” which was released on DVD last week.
In a world made entirely of Legos, a cheerful construction worker named Emmet (Chris Pratt) dreams of finding his purpose in life and being someone who matters. A mystic named Vitruvius (Morgan Freeman) cites a prophecy that a mythical block called the ‘Piece of Resistance’ would be joined to a hero to save the world from the evil Lord/President Business (Will Ferrell) and of course the block gets stuck to Emmett’s back. The mysterious hero Wyldstyle (Elizabeth Banks) saves Emmet from the clutches of Business and Good Cop/Bad Cop (Liam Neeson) and she shows Emmet the truth: That Lego World is actually a Lego Universe, full of pirates, cowboys, creatures, spaceships and super heroes. Business had them all separated and it’s up to Emmet and Wyldstyle to unite them again before Business superglues everyone into place permanently. But first, Emmet must learn to become a ‘master builder’, that is, to spontaneously create useful vehicles and contraptions from Lego pieces… without instructions.
“The Lego Movie” starts out about like I expected. At first it’s fast and loud like a Saturday morning cereal commercial. It revels in pop culture references, such as a popular reality show called “Where are My Pants?”, jokes about expensive Starbucks coffees and blasts an ever-present, silly song named “Everything is Awesome”. After awhile I found it surprising how many intellectual properties Lego was able to include: The DC comic book characters (ex. Batman, Superman, Green Lantern, etc…), the “Star Wars” universe, “Lord of the Rings” and even Shaquille O’Neal wearing his old Lakers jersey. Although Batman is supposed to be hero in this, it’s interesting how he is largely portrayed as an overconfident heel when competing for Wyldstyle’s affections against Emmet. Likewise with Han Solo and Lando Calrissian who show up as cads in an almost inappropriate cameo, while other recognizable heroes like Superman are rendered fairly powerless and useless early on. It’s the lesser characters who are allowed to shine here, which meshes nicely with the moral of the story. The production design also borrows heavily from films like “Tron”, “Transformers”, “Toy Story” and “The Matrix”. The whole production is a grab bag of the fun and familiar that is smart enough to impress adults while being hyperkinetic enough to entertain the kids.
The film benefits largely from are the voiceover performances of the actors, the clever dialogue and wildly creative use of the Lego medium. You also get to hear Morgan Freeman saying some things that sound really funny coming from him. In fact it’s probably the most comedic performance he’s ever given. However, in the end it’s Will Ferrell who steals the show and to explain why would reveal a big spoiler.
It’s actually the last third of the film that blindsides the audience with the moment that surprisingly gives the film its heart and brilliantly explains how this story is actually connected to us in the real world. It’s a twist so crazy and unexpected, it’ll make perfect sense to anyone with an active imagination and it is what ultimately won me over. The adults in the audience, who will be caught off guard after the Looney Tune-craziness of “The Lego Movie” up to that point, will find this twist highly rewarding.
You can bet there will be sequels of this. Lots and lots of sequels. I recommend enjoying this one before this franchise gets out of control, but the ending did leave some fun possibilities open.
Rating: 4 out of 5 stars