Directed by Phil Lord and Chris Miller
A shaky prologue starts the ball rolling on an overly-complicated plot involving a nefarious plan by Lord Business (voiced by Will Ferrell) that can only be stopped by someone called “The Special.” Before you have a chance to ask “So this is ?The Matrix’ with LEGOs?” we meet Emmett (Chris Pratt), a happy but average construction worker living in Bricksville, a city that’s all about building everything according to the instructions of “President Business.” When he encounters the beautiful Wyldstyle (voiced by Elizabeth Banks) lurking around his construction site, he ends up stuck to something called the “Piece of Resistance” that can put a stop to Business’ nefarious plans.
The first 15 minutes allows for some less-than-subtle social commentary about how we live our lives, dealing with conformism, following the rules and daily rituals while also trying to be unique and different. It probably takes a good half hour before things get going as we start meeting the other Master Builders and of course, the highlight of that is Will Arnett’s Batman, who also happens to be Wyldstyle’s boyfriend. Once they bring in the other Master Builders, that’s when the movie really starts to get fun.
Except by then it’s still strapped to a rather clunky plot about Business trying to destroy the world using something called “The KRAGLE” – yes, another item. We slowly learn more about the connection between these different items, and it starts making more sense as it goes along, but if an adult has trouble figuring out what’s going on, who’s to say a kid is going to know what they’re talking about?
Fortunately, there’s lots of crazy LEGO action that will keep the kids entertained and lots of clever and funny characters like Liam Neeson’s (literal) turn as Bad Cop, the Charlie Day-voiced builder obsessed with building a spaceship, and Alison Brie’s Unikitty, who reminded me of too many ex-girlfriends. Like they did with “Cloudy,” Miller and Lord know how to populate their casts with funny actors who make you forget you’re watching pieces of plastic on screen, but with that in mind and considering their previous work, you would expect the movie to be wall-to-wall jokes and laughter, but really some of the funniest ones have already been used for the trailers and TV spots.
At times, the animation seems fairly primitive, maybe because there’s only so much you can do with the small plastic figures, although those crazy LEGO action sequences are fairly impressive with how much is happening on screen. There’s certainly a danger of a movie like this turning into a “Wreck-It Ralph” cameo-fest, but there’s really only one egregiously obvious cameo done specifically for the fanboys.
For those who don’t like animated movies with lots of action and laughs, especially once they start getting increasingly more chaotic, as this one does, there’s a revelatory turning point to the movie that hopefully won’t be spoiled by those pesky critics and journalists who can’t keep their big mouths shut. It literally comes from out of left field, but it pretty much explains everything–it’s like the Architect’s speech from “Matrix Reloaded” if we’re going to return to that reference–but it also gives some real warmth and weight to the movie and absolves Ferrell for being so obnoxiously annoying everytime Lord Business opens his mouth.
For some, it may be hard not to feel like they’re watching one big advertisement for LEGO, but at least it approaches that advertising from the right place – with a sense of whimsical fun and true heart that says, “Hey, relax. There’s no wrong way to play with LEGOs.”
The Bottom Line: