Sometimes you hear about a movie and you think “how are they going to do that?” because the concept is so weirdly specific or, as is the case with Lego, so enormously broad. I’m of the opinion that you can make a good movie out of anything though because, as it turns out, you totally can.
The Lego Movie is one of the best movies you are going to see this year. Bold words for the first week of February I grant you but it’s true. Run, don’t walk, to your nearest theatre with your best friends and watch as all the freedom of imagination you had as a kid is projected on screen. It’s seriously amazing.
I’m going to talk a little bit about why I loved this movie now but that’s going to entail some slight spoilers so my recommendation is that you stop reading and go watch. Ok? Ok.
The Lego Movie starts out with Emmett the construction worker waking up and starting his day which he does with a set of instructions. Then he goes to work and follows instructions to build things. Then after witnessing a mysterious woman he falls down a hole and encounters “The Piece of Resistance” which is then bonded to his body and reveals him to be “The Special”, the only person in the universe who can use the newly discovered piece to disarm “The Kraggle”, the most dangerous weapon in the universe which is currently in the possession of President Business, who plans to use it to destroy the world.
If this is sounding a little like a standard hero’s journey story, well, you’re not entirely wrong but this is the type of story that when told well works well and in The Lego Movie it’s told extremely well. Note to self, use a thesaurus.
Through the course of the journey it’s revealed that Lord Business isn’t going to so much destroy the world as he is just freeze it “as it should be” using the kraggle, which turns out to be a tube of Krazy Glue with the letters z, y, and u on the label covered up by gunk (and the “Piece of Resistance” is the lid to the tube). There are many jokes like this in the the movie and I won’t spoil any more but basically be prepared to laugh at household items.
Emmett must adventure across the realms of Lego to find, and learn to be on of, the “master builders.” See in the the world he lives in everyone follows the instructions but there was a time when anyone could build anything they wanted from the pieces that make up the world. Yes, that’s right, this is an adventure movie that’s as much about playing with Lego as it is anything else and it is fantastically executed.
Let me just break that down a little further: this is a movie that manages to convey, on screen, what playing with Lego when you were 10 looked like in your head. That’s no small achievement. It very easily could have just been a movie that happened to be with Lego characters but Phil Lord and Chris Miller actually get Lego and what makes it so cool and they’ve actually brought that to the screen.
Emmett (Chris Pratt, whose voice has just the right balance of upbeat hopefulness to sell the loveable, sincere, sweet, idiot character) travels with WildStyle (Elizabeth Banks who has just the right amount of exasperation to sell her “I can’t believe I’m stuck with this guy” character), Batman (yes, Batman) (Will Arnett, who is just the right amount of gravel and sarcasm in his voice to be, well, Batman) and Vitruvius the Wizard (and let’s face it, he’s Morgan Freeman. He could read the phone book and it would be interesting). Alison Brie later joins them as Uni-Kitty, a crazy unicorn cat and she has all the sweetness in her voice which is required.
I can’t stress enough how well the voice cast works for their roles, right down to Channing Tatum and Jonah Hill in cameo as Superman and Green Lantern respectively. Will Ferrell and Liam Neeson are the bad guys Lord Business and his right hand man Bad Cop and Neeson in particular is hilarious.
If some of this is sounding like it’s something you might overhear a kid narrating as he plays with Lego, well, you’re not far off. I’m not going to spoil exactly what happens but by the time it happens when Emmett meets “The Man Upstairs” you shouldn’t be terribly surprised by it based on all the other jokes you’ve seen leading up to it.
The last act is almost too much when it comes down to Emmett facing Lord Business and the real enemy turns out to be his feelings but the whole movie is just so well executed that it never goes to far and it just, well, works. And remember this is a movie for the whole family so the big message at the end is sweet but it isn’t over-explained or heavy handed, it just happens and the film trusts the audience to get it (though to be fair it’s not that hard to get).
Phil Lord and Chris Miller have turned in consistently good work over the last decade or so and The Lego Movie is their best yet. It’s fun, it’s sweet, it gets Lego, it’s hilarious from start to finish, and you should see it.