The universal kid in all of us can rejoice at last: The LEGO Movie has finally hit theatres!
Highly anticipated, The LEGO Movie is primed to sweep the box office with a celebrity cast and major marketing tie-ins. Written and directed by Phil Lord and Chris Miller (Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs), it features the incredible animation work of Chris McKay (Robot Chicken).
But beyond the delightful gimmick of a Lego feature, this wickedly multi-level story line is genuinely funny and at times quite clever – even subversive. Packed with surprises designed to speak to fans, The LEGO Movie is not only entertaining; it’s an entirely new genre of animated filmmaking through toys.
This is the story of a common construction worker named Emmet (Chris Pratt), who is mistaken for the man destined to save the world. The reluctant hero enjoys ‘following the instructions’ and buys in to the social norms of his Lego realm, controlled by Lord Business (Will Ferrell). Emmet is quite happy to follow their routines without question, never considering the creative aspect of their build. Adults can quickly grasp this subversive theme, but it’s particularly funny when underscored by the worker theme song, “Everything is Awesome!” (which kids love and you will never get out of your head).
Despite the ‘Awesome’ exterior of the Lego realm, Lord Business is cooking up a dark plot that promises to destroy the entire Lego World. But a prophecy states that world will be saved by a Master Builder, someone who doesn’t stick to the rules and can build anything from pieces they find. And they can only save the world by finding the piece of resistance, which Emmet happens to become stuck to at his construction site.
The sassy Master Builder named Wyldstyle (Elizabeth Banks) stumbles on Emmet and takes him for the would-be hero. Believing he is the chosen one, she rallies her mentor Vitruvius (Morgan Freeman), her boyfriend Batman (Will Arnett), and all the famous Lego Master Builders (Jonah Hill as Green Lantern, Alison Brie as Unikitty, Will Forte as Abraham Lincoln and many more). Confronted with a task that demands him to act on his own free will, the common construction worker is forced to question his logic and choose between following the rules, or helping his new friends. What makes this movie different is that he chooses BOTH.
Without any spoilers, this relatively straightforward set up makes for a hilarious romp through the Lego realms as the Master Builders rally to help Emmet learn to use his ‘creative powers’. If you’re a Lego nerd, you’ll adore the references to individual pieces of past kits, particularly the ‘Spaceman Steve’ throwback (this is the kit I used to have 🙂 If you’re an animation nerd, you’ll love the intricately shot 3D models, individually animated ‘bullets’ and ‘lasers’, and tremendously creative character modelling. And frankly, if you’re not any kind of nerd at all you’ll probably still love this movie for the slightly sarcastic but fundamentally sweet subversion of societal rules.
In a movie that could have easily stooped to the level of childish storytelling, The LEGO Movie is an impressively complex look at the balance between the merits of order and chaos. And even knowing this, there are some fantastic surprises in the movie which will totally disrupt your assumptions about the characters and their world; especially poignant is the ‘Bad Dad’ role played by Will Ferrell which is sure to strike a chord with any Lego-loving parent. It’s amazing how many life lessons can be conveyed through the Lego hobby.
What began as a whimsical way to bring an 80-year old toy brand in to the storytelling age, has come off so well it’s likely to become its own genre of stop-motion filmmaking. After 5 years and close to 65 million dollars, The LEGO Movie is an impressive example of how 3D computer animation is tapping in to traditional stop motion. But the real surprise is the incredibly entertaining and insightful storyline, designed to make Lego fans not only laugh but also reflect deeply on the meaning of being a Lego builder. Can’t wait for #2.