The LEGO Movie,
directed by Phil Lord & Christopher Miller
(Warner Bros., 2014)

I enjoyed my childhood enough that watching my favorite toys or TV shows come to larger life on the screen is usually a pleasure. It's only surprising it took so long for a great idea like this to make it to the movies, even if it is the greatest marketing ploy in the known world. Via the magic of animation and 3-D, we are immersed in the LEGO universe and a hilarious and charming adventure involving an everyday Joe named Emmett (Chris Pratt) and a mysterious overlord who wants to destroy the toy-populated universe.

Calling upon the cliches of every major blockbuster in order to make fun of every major blockbuster, The LEGO Movie is a fast-paced, pumped-up (to the rafters) assault on the senses that is virtually impossible to take in all at once, so repeated viewings are a necessary pleasure. Emmett, a construction worker in the town of Brickburg, finds himself at the center of a mysterious prophecy in which a mysterious wizard, Vitruvius (Morgan Freeman), foretells of a being known as The Special, a messiah-like individual who is destined to go up against the evil Lord Business (Will Ferrell) who intends to keep everything snapped permanently into place (with what turns out to be a tube of extra-large Krazy Glue).

If you're into pop culture and movie references, then you're in nerd heaven. Star Wars, The Matrix, The Lord of the Rings and many other classics are cornerstones of the entire fulfill-your-destiny-Luke storyline. Rounding out the line-up are a goth girl named Wyldstyle (Elizabeth Banks), Batman (Will Arnett, who does the Caped Crusader's voice better than Christian Bale), a "Hello Kitty"-type superfeline named Unikitty (Alison Brie) and a very inspired GoodCop/BadCop (Liam Neeson).

Don't worry about the plot, since it's essentially composed of quite literal set pieces that are excuses for a rocket burst of nonstop visual gags, pop culture references, snarky jokes and the usual puns. It is at one and the same time very dense and quite light-hearted, requiring repeated viewings for complete absorption. Yet the running time feels a bit long, as though more than a few minutes could easily be trimmed. Still, it's very affecting, ditching the animation in the last 15 minutes for a live-action piece that has a thing or two to say about believing in yourself and letting playfulness be what it is, without regulating imagination into monotony. Every line, every utterly over-the-top scene, is delivered in a near-perfect send-up that offers the usual lessons with a very light heart that practically demands a sequel.

review by
Mary Harvey

22 March 2014

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