Movie Reviews

The LEGO Movie

Reviewed by: Scott Chitwood
Rating: 8.5 out of 10
Movie Details: View here

Voice Cast:
Chris Pratt as Emmet Brickowoski
Will Arnett as Batman
Elizabeth Banks as Wyldstyle
Alison Brie as Unikitty
Liam Neeson as Bad Cop / Good Cop
Nick Offerman as Metal Beard
Charlie Day as Benny
Will Ferrell as Lord Business / President Business
Will Forte as Abraham Lincoln
Morgan Freeman as Vitruvius
Jonah Hill as Green Lantern
Cobie Smulders as Wonder Woman
Channing Tatum as Superman

Directed by Phil Lord and Christopher Miller

Summary:
A fun story, hilarious cast, impressive animation, and surprise cameos make "The LEGO Movie" a great film for both kids and adults.

Story:
"The LEGO Movie" is based on the awesome toy.

Emmet Brickowoski is your ordinary everyday Joe. He follows the rules, goes to work, and is utterly average in every sense of the word, but his world changes when he accidentally discovers a strange object. Suddenly he is pursued by the cops, the beautiful and mysterious Wyldstyle, and the forces of the evil Lord Business. It turns out they all believe that Emmet is "The Special" as described in a prophecy proclaimed by Vitruvius, and it is believed that he's the only one who can defeat the evil ruler of their world.

But as Emmet goes on the run, he soon discovers that the world is much bigger than he ever expected and filled with more bizarre characters than he could ever imagine. He soon teams up with the likes of Batman, Superman, an astronaut, a unicorn kitty, a pirate, the Ninja Turtles, and more in an effort to foil Lord Business' evil plan.

"The LEGO Movie" is rated PG for mild action and rude humor.

What Worked:
If you grew up with LEGOs or have kids with LEGOs, then you're going to love "The LEGO Movie." I personally started collecting LEGOs in the '70s and my first set was a spaceship that featured the blue '80s space guy like Benny. (That set even made a brief appearance in the background of a couple of scenes, much to my excitement and not that of my wife or kids.) My little sister had the castle LEGOs and my youngest sister had Duplo. So seeing "The LEGO Movie" was like a nostalgic trip down memory lane. And all of the little quirks about LEGOs are here. They make jokes about how they can't move their legs in certain directions. When Emmet falls he breaks into pieces. The characters follow printed instructions like those that come with the toys. It's quite clear that the creators were all LEGO fans themselves, because that love is apparent in every frame of this film.

But it's not nostalgia alone that carries "The LEGO Movie." It's also flat out funny. There are endless one-liners, sight gags, and other fun moments in practically every scene that have absolutely nothing to do with LEGOs. There are references to "The Terminator," "The Dark Knight Rises" and other films. Emmet is quite amusing as the fish out of water that hopelessly keeps trying to impress Wyldstyle. There are jokes about overpriced coffee, stupid sitcoms, corporate greed, and other random topics. More than once I found myself laughing out loud at the clever humor. Like "The Pirates of the Caribbean," it takes a concept that seems like a quick corporate money grab and turns it into something much more special.

Another thing many people will remember about "The LEGO Movie" is the awesome cameos. Some are publicly known like Batman, Superman, Wonder Woman, Flash and Green Lantern. Batman is hilariously macho and Will Arnett perfectly voices him. Then Channing Tatum and Jonah Hill carry over their chemistry from "21 Jump Street" as Superman and Green Lantern. We also get to see the Ninja Turtles, a brief potshot at "Speed Racer" (which also had LEGO sets), Ninjago, and more. But there are also a couple of other show-stopping cameos that I won't spoil here. However, if you look at the various licenses that LEGO holds, it won't take much to guess what those cameos might be. You won't be disappointed by them, so don't spoil yourself in advance.

The voice cast is perfect across the board. If you're a fan of "Parks & Recreation," then you're a fan of Chris Pratt - his ability to play the lovable dimwit is perfect for the role of Emmet and his enthusiasm to play over-the-top characters are absolutely what is needed for our hero. It's amazing that he hasn't done animation sooner. He's paired with the ever-lovable Elizabeth Banks. She's always funny and likable in her live-action roles and that perfectly carries over to her role as Wyldstyle (no, she's not a DJ). Morgan Freeman is also quite funny as Vitruvius and he proves more than willing to mock the gravitas of his silky smooth voice.

But the real surprise is Will Ferrell. I knew he was in the movie, but I didn't realize how prominent he'd ultimately be in it. We already know he is funny and he continues that with Lord Business, but as the film progresses he has a larger and larger part in the story, eventually ending up at the core of the filmís message. It was quite a pleasant surprise and it ends up being his most notable family-friendly role since "Elf." Rounding out the cast is Liam Neeson, Alison Brie ("Community"), Nick Offerman ("Parks & Recreation"), and Charlie Day ("Pacific Rim").

The animation in "The LEGO Movie" is quite impressive. More than once you'll think they actually used LEGO bricks in the animation rather than CG. They animate it with a stop-motion effect that helps add to the feeling that you're seeing real LEGOs moving on the screen. I also highly recommend seeing it in 3D. It adds great depth to the CG and you really start to appreciate the scope and detail of the animated world. It's also fun as the Batwing flies out of the screen at you.

Finally, I have to mention the music. The song "Everything is AWESOME!!!" by Tegan and Sara featuring The Lonely Island will be stuck in your head for days, but in a good way.

What Didn't Work:
"The LEGO Movie" starts out a heck of a lot like "The Matrix." Our hero is an everyday Joe living in a boring world secretly run by sinister forces, robots, and other bad things. Then one day the hero meets a mysterious tough girl in black with amazing powers who proclaims him to be "The Chosen One." You see where this is going. It's amusing for a while, but the story doesn't really kick into gear until Emmet and Wyldstyle break into the Western town. It's only then that it starts really departing from the formula of "The Matrix." Things are further amped up when Batman arrives and gives an extra infusion of humor. But if they had stuck with the Matrix theme the entire time, it would have gotten old fast.

The themes in "The LEGO Movie" also seem to contradict themselves at times. For example, Emmet has trouble being creative which is portrayed as being bad. But then he meets the Master Builders who are incredibly creative and that seems to be good. But by the end of the film, itís Emmet's utter lack of creativity and ability to follow the rules that saves the day, not the creativity of the Master Builders. So it felt like a big contradiction... but who cares. I got to see Batman fight alongside other characters who will remain nameless for the sake of avoiding spoilers.

As creative, fun, and heartwarming as "The LEGO Movie" is, it eventually devolves into a chaotic brawl by the end. It's kind of a mess of LEGOs in the finale that's a bit much to take in. But, ultimately, it's forgivable and you walk out of the theater wanting to immediately see a sequel.

The Bottom Line:
"The LEGO Movie" was an absolutely fun experience for my whole family and me. We all enjoyed it and it was one of those rare family movies that are worth the time and money to go see. And you don't have to drag kids along to go see it. There is plenty here to entertain adults, but those who actually played with LEGOs at some point in their lives are going to enjoy it on an entirely different level.



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