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The LEGO Movie – Movie Review

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The LEGO Movie – Movie Review

Rating: A (Fantastic)

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Few toys support the notion of creativity more than the delights of LEGO, so making a feature film surrounding those Danish bricks has many possibilities and directions it could go in. By employing Phil Lord and Christopher Miller, the hilarious director/writer duo who made food fall from the sky in many clever ways in Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs, this movie fulfills all of the dreams of many LEGO fans, young and old. There are so many layers and intelligent avenues explored in The LEGO Movie that it’s a film that will be greatly rewarded with multiple viewings. However, even with a whole lot of material thrown into the mix, they are able to produce a very coherent story that is not only extremely funny, but tackles some important themes, has a real heartfelt emotional core and presents some major stakes for these characters and their multiple worlds.

There are so many LEGO brands to choose from and Lord and Miller impressively throw a lot of them into the film. There are the expected cowboy, medieval, city and pirate LEGO sets that are still their most beloved universes and being a Warner Brothers production, their DC properties make appearances in LEGO form. For those who have a fondness for the company’s train sets and movie licenses, they will be pleased to see some of them featured. Even the likes of BIONICLE and the discontinued Fabuland show up in a brief flash. Part of the joy of this movie is seeing how many of their iconic toys appear, if only for a short time. The only LEGO products that appear to be missing are the movie licensed characters the studio didn’t want to pay the rights to use and the video games. Of course, considering all of the detail placed into the backgrounds, there is a possibility of Rocket Racer or the LEGO Island characters being hidden somewhere. However, that incredible attention to crafting this animated universe is what results in a wondrous sight for the eyes. The team at Animal Logic manage to seamlessly combine stop-motion with computer animation, with the latter perfectly replicating the way LEGO figurines move. The filmmakers do not take any shortcuts with how the characters and pieces move from frame to frame and they use their limitations to humourous effect. Even the sound effects manage to capture that LEGO feeling. Those who tried making stop-motion LEGO movies in their youth (and possibly their adulthood) will appreciate what has been put on screen.

While the bout of nostalgia from LEGO fans will be large upon seeing this world come alive, the screenplay is so cleverly written that the appeal will extend to more than just diehard fans of the toy lines. The resulting adventure is a commentary on how society tends to limit our creativity as we must follow the “instructions” that life selects for us. In addition to understanding exactly what the appeal of the toys are, this is a meaningful message that can be relatable to anybody who has either been to school or gone through the hardships of life. The way Lord and Miller even use the fact that there are multiple LEGO sets to effectively convey the satire is brilliant and the story is never predictable. The movie’s catchy theme song “Everything Is Awesome” is itself such an ear worm, that it is easy to forget the tune is meant to represent the carefully constructed world the LEGO people inhabit and how they are blissfully unaware of the dictatorial regime they live in. That is the brilliance of the screenplay that it manages to tackle all of this satire in a subtle way, thus working on multiple levels.

At the centre of the story is the main character Emmet, who is an excellent embodiment of the everyman and immediately relatable. There is a genuine innocence and good nature to this character and if he was not already likeable enough, Chris Pratt’s wonderful voice-work adds a lot to Emmet’s “aw-shucks” sweetness. He represents all of us who are merely a speck in this massive universe. Wyldstyle is not merely the token female that there is there to make sassy comments and fight the villains, but actually has a nicely complex character arc and even Batman is not simply used as a joke character. The Caped Crusader is quite an essential character and Will Arnett brings his own spark of comedic brilliance to him. The villain President Business is a rather spot-on take on political corruption and the nice smiling faces we see on television that certainly have something to hide. His evil plan and the way it unfolds is written to fantastic effect as Lord and Miller use our own experiences with LEGO to enhance the humour of the situation.

However, they don’t shy away from the real stakes inherent in The LEGO Movie as these characters are worth becoming emotionally invested in. It is a key to their skill as writers that the heart and humour mix so well in conveying the many ideas that run through the film. All of the themes are amazingly constructed into the screenplay and despite all of the LEGO mayhem thrown at us, the story retains a coherent structure. Character development is not thrown to the side and even the high-speed chase sequences are major pieces that move the story arcs forward. It never feels like watching toys on-screen because the characters are so well-rounded and organic parts of this universe they inhabit. While Lord and Miller dig deep into our childhoods to create this story, they do not aim it squarely at that crowd and this is definitely the sort of animated feature that will find a bigger admiration among older viewers for its delights than with younger audiences. The LEGO Movie is like a lesson in how to make a wide-reaching family movie as the filmmakers have basically done a film for themselves rather than worrying about demographics.

While Warner Brothers may have greenlit The LEGO Movie for commercial reasons (it’s probably no coincidence that the screening was right next to a Toys ‘R’ Us), Phil Lord and Christopher Miller have taken the toy’s mission statement to heart. Whether you choose to follow the instructions or make your own creations with those colourful bricks, LEGO is appealing to every single person without condescending to them, their overly stereotypical “LEGO Friends” line aside. The LEGO Movie understands this perfectly and crafts a wonderful ode to creativity and imagination that will definitely bring to mind the many hours spent building and playing with LEGO on the living room rug. That they have made a very intelligent film that serves as a satire on conformity only adds to the hour and forty minutes of utter enjoyment and LEGO could not have picked a better set of directors to bring their beloved toys to the big screen.

Review By: Stefan Ellison

THE SCENE


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