The Lego Movie
Release Date: February 7, 2014
Cast: Chris Pratt, Elizabeth Banks, Will Arnett, Will Ferrell, Nick Offerman, Charlie Day, Alison Brie, Morgan Freeman, Liam Neeson
Director: Phil Lord and Chris Miller
Studio: Village Roadshow Pictures, Lego System A/S, Vertigo Entertainment, Lin Pictures
Distributor: Warner Bros. Studios
Genre(s): Animated, Comedy, Action Adventure
Based On: Lego Construction Toys
Think back to when you had Lego toys as a kid. If you were anything like me, I bet you built the sets once, had them together for a bit, then broke them down to create things with your other Legos. I know I used to make a giant house where an ice cream seller, her daughter, an astronaut and other assorted minifigs I had used to live together and be fascinated by what I could stick the wheels on.
The Lego Movie is pretty much that kind of adventure you had with your Legos when you were a kid, but on a much bigger and ridiculous scale. For a movie that’s pretty much a giant advertisement for Lego, it ends up being super charming and creative. Which is really what a movie about Legos needs to be.
The film centers around Emmet (Chris Pratt), a regular construction worker who lives his life by the instructions set out by Octan, the corporation created by President Business (Will Ferrell). He’s seems rather happy in his live by the instructions life, but quickly realizes that he’s got nothing special about him. That is, of course, until he gets something known as the Piece of Resistance stuck to his back while at work one night. Suddenly, he’s thrusted into the world of the Master Builders, outcasted rebels who were known for crossing between worlds and creating without instructions before President Business became obsessed with cutting off interaction and creativity. Emmet is the Special, the one who’s supposed to save The Master Builders and bring the world back to its former state.
The problem is that Emmet isn’t that bright or special.
Well, the assumed problem.
I think part of what makes this movie so great was that it has a lot of fun with the stereotypical “normal man fulfills a prophecy” trope. Emmet may not have special powers, a super cool car like Batman, or like things that are considered unique, but he does have ideas that are specifically his and he has a lot of heart in what he does. I’m a sucker for things aimed at kids that remind them that they do have a lot of uniqueness and creativity to offer the world, even if people can’t see it right away.
It’s also just funny as hell. I saw it with a fellow twenty something and we were laughing as hard as the kids and parents were. Sometimes even more so. The movie was written and directed by Phil Lord and Chris Miller, the creative minds behind Clone High and the Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs movie. Meaning that there’s a LOT of ridiculous humor in it. I could list off the jokes that made me roll with laughter, but I feel like it needs to be experienced in person. Let’s just say that it has the best line Morgan Freeman has ever uttered in the very first line of the film. The humor managed to be perfectly aimed for children while still giving adults a lot to laugh at without feeling cheap or sneaking in dirty jokes.
The voice cast in the film is impressive too. I didn’t recognize Nick Offerman as Metal Beard, Channing Tatum and Jonah Hill have awesome cameos as Superman and the Green Lantern, and Morgan Freeman as Vitruvius was clearly having the time of his life in the studio. The real scene stealers of the movie though had to be Will Arnett as Batman and Charlie Day as Benny. I’ve never seen a film that is so meta about how ridiculous Batman’s brooding can be and Arnett pulls it off perfectly. If you aren’t laughing at his “Untitled Self Portrait,” I don’t want to know you. As for Benny, if the manic little 1980s astro-dude needs to be friends with the Space Core from Portal stat. I also want all the video of Day in the recording booth for this movie.
The one thing that kind of disappointed me about the film though was the lack of female representation. I mean, it definitely passes Bechdel and Sexy Lamp tests, but for a film that’s about how everyone is special for a toy that’s supposed to be the one gender neutral thing, the marketing and sets are definitely more aimed towards boys. I’m glad that Wyldstyle (Elizabeth Banks) exists and that she got the arc of realizing that being “normal” doesn’t mean that you can’t be special or creative. I just wanted to see more of her beyond her relationships with Emmet and Batman. I also needed more of Princess Unikitty because Alison Brie was bringing it to the unhinged little resident of Cloud Cukoo Land. I would have also appreciated a little more Wonder Woman because this was the first time she has been in a feature length film. Yeah… the freaking Lego Movie featured Wonder Woman as a character before anything else did. She also gets a supremely well timed joke about the Invisble Jet and Cobie Smulders gets to brag about being the first cinematic Wonder Woman.
The Lego Movie is product placement done oh so right. It’s charming and funny in a way that both kids and adults can appreciate with plenty of nerdy references and a good message. There were things that could have been done better for girls that needed to hear the same message, but overall? EVERYTHING IS AWESOME!