No matter your age, gender or upbringing, most everyone had their first Lego set. From giant Duplo blocks to advanced Technics, we all spent time piecing together multi colored bricks. My building approach was OCD level left brain. The instructions were king and I carefully recreated every nook and cranny to match the box photos. My obsessive attention to detail clashed with friends who did the opposite, developing wonderfully random works of juvenile art. That’s the beauty of the bricks: logical or random, careful or carefree, they nurture our own natural inclinations. With The Lego Movie, directors Phil Lord and Chris Miller (Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs, 21 Jump Street) capture the spirit of the timeless toys with stunning visuals, genuine humor and a surprisingly deep storyline.
Animated with a clever combination of brick based structures and spot on facial work, The Lego Movie is immediately entertaining to watch, especially in the first ten minutes. The story revolves around Emmet Brickowski, an ordinary construction worker living a blissful life of pre-destiny. Follow the instructions and everything will be awesome. However, things get turned around for our everyman hero when he stumbles upon the Piece of Resistance and meets Wildstyle, a maverick master builder. Her and her team of rebels have been searching for the mysterious object, a relic that could change the world of the brick-laden Lego world.
The voice work of the ensemble cast is top notch, including Chris Pratt as the eager Emmet, Elizabeth Banks as the kung fu inspired WildStyle and a fantastic Will Arnett as a Christian Bale challenging Batman. Leading the pack is Will Farell as Lord Business, the nefarious leader of the Bricksburg and the main antagonist. Lord Business is a colorfully ruthless villain, who never takes his plans of world domination all that seriously. He loves being evil and we love watching him be the bad guy.
Often in Hollywood animated films, the celebrity cast is easily recognizable. As much fun as it is, it’s obvious Kung Fu Panda is voiced by Jack Black. Thanks to an exceptional cast and a spot on script, this trap is avoided. Each character has their own distinct personality, masking most of the star power. When you can barely tell Morgan Freeman is voicing the mystical Vitruvius, you know you’ve hit a home-run.
But this isn’t a hyper-caffeinated kiddie flick leaning on 80’s toy nostalgia. Children may latch onto the high contrast visuals but adults will appreciate the themes supporting them. The Lego Movie is consistently surprising, using a combination of visual tricks, story arcs and a wonderful 180 degree turn in the final twenty minutes to tell a story of impact and interest. The soundtrack is exceptional as well, featuring the unbelievably catchy Everything is Awesome written by the indie pop duo, Tegan and Sara.
The first three months of the film-going season is usually a cinematic dumping ground. Dramas that couldn’t get Oscar buzz, action films not good enough for a summer release and soggy rom-coms for the Valentine’s Day crowd. The Lego Movie bucks the tradition as an exuberant ray of sunshine in a dark cloud of movie-going banality. What starts as a funny jaunt through a living, breathing world of toys evolves into a stunning allegory for imagination, playfulness and the power of creativity. Much like the Lego sets of my childhood, everything clicks together perfectly in the first fantastic movie of 2014. No instructions required.
Score: 9.5 out of 10
ABOUT THE REVIEWER:
Jersey born, New York based and Austin bound, Bill Tucker is a writer of short fiction, film reviews and articles across a variety of media. He currently writes bi-monthly reviews for Pantheon Magazine and his micro fiction story, K, was recently accepted for publication in Solarcide’s flash fiction compilation, Flash Me. When not writing, he works as an IT Trainer for a fashion software company. Check out more of his work atwww.thesurrealityproject.com.