Directed by Phil Lord and Christopher Miller, the duo who brought us “Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs,” “21 Jump Street” and the hilarious and overlooked TV show “Clone High,” “The Lego Movie” is a visually dazzling, highly entertaining movie that embraces its commerciality and everything “Lego” without ever taking itself too seriously.
Although the main plot isn’t necessarily ground-breaking, Lord and Miller still find a way to deliver a story stacked with sharp, witty jokes and jaw-dropping animation. Although the story is essentially about an average person (or in this case, Lego mini-figure) overcoming an evil ruler through the power of believing in oneself, it also delves into the philosophy of Legos and the two types of builders: those who follow the instructions of this “interlocking brick system” and those who build freely, constructing whatever their imagination desires.
The story begins with a brief scene that sets up the prophecy of “The Special,” a master-builder who is destined to stop the evil Lord Business and his attempts at enforcing rigid order and control. Eight and a half years later, we are introduced to Emmet Brickowoski (Chris Pratt, “Her”), an enthusiastic yet average construction worker who plays by the rules. Literally. There is literally a set of rules and instructions that Brickowoski follows every day in order to have “a fun, awesome, nice life.” One of the best aspects of the film is its self-awareness. The everyday instructions that Brickowoski follows are in the style and format of actual Lego building set instructions and are in sync with the “rule-following” philosophy. One night, after a day at work, Brickowoski runs into the mysterious “Wild-Style” (Elizabeth Banks, “The Hunger Games: Catching Fire”), an outlaw “master-builder.” Instantly infatuated, Brickowoski accidentally falls into a pit, strays from his instructions and finds the one thing that can stop Lord Business, making him into “The Special.” It’s a fun and exciting journey, but “The Lego Movie” really hits home with its ending, proving that a movie thought to be one big commercial can deliver a truthful, heartfelt moment about imagination, creativity and being a kid playing with toys.
The casting director really pulled out all the stops, as the cast-list is as colorful and far-reaching as the Lego universe play-sets. Besides Pratt and Banks, Liam Neeson (“Taken 2”), Will Ferrell (“Anchorman 2”), Morgan Freeman (“Last Vegas”) and Will Arnett (“The Nut Job”) give inspired and energetic performances. The film also features Charlie Day (“It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia”) and Alison Brie (“Community”) in secondary roles, although they really steal most of the scenes they’re featured in.
The cameo list is just as unreal, featuring Will Forte, Jonah Hill, Channing Tatum, Cobie Smulders, Shaquille O’Neal and many others, playing characters from the Lego-verse like Abe Lincoln, Green Lantern, Superman, Wonder Woman and Shaq, respectively. Also making cameos are Billy Dee Williams and Anthony Daniels, who, for fans of this universe far-far away, can most likely guess what characters they appear as.
The movie’s only problem is that there is only one main female character (two if you count “UniKitty,” a character that is part unicorn, part kitty). Although Wild-Style is pretty badass and holds her own, she functions as little more than a love interest and motivator for Brickowoski. Much like Lego characters in real life, the presence of females feels a little lacking.
That being said, “The Lego Movie” delivers on every level. At no point was I ever bored or not thoroughly entertained by what was happening on screen. Just revisiting this film in my head while writing this review is confirming that I will have to see this movie again.
4.5 out of 5 stars