When I first heard about The Lego Movie, I had no clue what the film could possibly be about. After all, when I played with Lego, all I had was a box of bricks that clicked together, and their potential for a block-buster (pun, I’m afraid, intended) seemed pretty slim.
However, the Lego universe includes countless sets, figurines, video-games and direct to DVD movies based on popular franchises like Star Wars and Indiana Jones. This allows directors Chris Miller and Phil Lord to fill their film with crazy worlds and a host of pop culture icons.
The film follows Emmet (Chris Pratt), an extraordinarily ordinary figurine, who goes about his days in a city made entirely out of Lego. There, people listen to the same song over and over, and knock down buildings only to rebuild them again. It’s a looped cycle of satisfied routine, similar to The Truman Show’s town of Seahaven. However, Emmet meets a woman named Wildstyle (Elizabeth Banks) , who looks like a Lego version of The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, who tells him that he is ‘the special’, the only individual who is capable of thwarting the Evil Lord Business’ (Will Ferrell) plans to freeze the world. This leads to an adventure where Emmet meets the ego-centric Batman (Will Arnett), a spaced-out spaceman (Charlie Day) and a wizard played by everyone’s favourite pair of vocal cords, Morgan Freeman.
The film is clearly made to appeal to adults just as much as it is to kids, if not more so, thanks to its tongue in cheek irony and self-referential sense of humor. The movie also has several amusingly bonkers moments that come close to what I imagine it’d be like to take LSD in Legoland. So many gags fly at you it’s hard to keep up. Many hit, but many miss, and the film seems as though it’s trying too hard to prove its own hip-ness. And I have an ominous feeling I’ll be hearing the ‘Everything Is Awesome’ song for years to come.
The worlds themselves, from the sprawling metropolis to the old west, are incredible to look at. These landscapes are computer generated yet have a stop motion appearance, and faithfully work within the confines of real Lego constructions. There really is something intricately beautiful about seeing everything made of tiny plastic bricks. However, when it comes to the many action sequences, the screen erupts into explosions of little bits and pieces, and can be frustrating to watch. In fact, the film is packed with a few too many action scenes, which would doubtless please kids, yet is a bit too hyper for me. I prefer the simpler storytelling charm of Pixar’s Toy Story films.
That being said, Toy Story is clearly an inspiration. Like Toy Story, the characters are fun and get great lines, especially Batman who steals the show, with Arnett gently parodying Christian Bale’s overly-brooding take on the character (which he both deserved and needed right now). The film’s ending also matches the very best of Pixar. Blockbuster films, especially kid’s films, tend to get tiring by the third act when the story needs to be wrapped up and originality is put to the side. Here, however, Miller and Lord give the plot a surprising turn that completely elevates the movie, from just daft fun to something quite special. You will leave the cinema with your heart warmed and a nostalgia for childhood playthings. Now where did I put those Lego bricks?