I meant to watch “The LEGO Movie” a long time ago. I hadn’t heard much about it before it was released in theaters, and then it seemed to come out of nowhere with a 96 percent Rotten Tomatoes rating and a surprisingly strong $70 million opening weekend. Then it came out on DVD in the middle of the summer blockbuster season, and I kept forgetting to rent it. At this point it’s probably a little late to be writing a review, and when I finally got around to watching it, I found myself wishing I had caught it while it was in theaters. It’s a whimsically charming, quirky and funny film that’s equally entertaining for kids and adults.
The film is about an everyday construction worker named Emmet (voiced by Chris Pratt) who is perfectly content with his ordinary life. He listens to the same music everybody else does, enjoys the same TV shows everyone else likes, and doesn’t try too hard to stand out in the crowd. Then one day, by accident, he discovers a magical LEGO brick that turns out to be the key to defeating a plot by the evil President Business (voiced by Will Ferrell) to stop all creativity and force everyone to conform to his will. What follows is an entertaining, madcap adventure through various LEGO realms (the Old West, the Middle Ages, Pirates, etc.). Emmett learns that even an ordinary person can be a hero.
It’s difficult to describe “The LEGO Movie” since it really isn’t like any other animated movie I’ve seen. This movie easily could have turned into an hour-and-a-half commercial for LEGO toys, but thankfully the film makers manage to transcend this. Although there’s a lot going on both in terms of plot and visuals, it never seems to spiral out of control. It takes a while to get used to the fact that literally everything in the film — even the smoke from a train and waves in the ocean — is constructed from LEGO bricks, but it turns out to be a fun, creative animation style.
The film is loaded with cameos and famous voice actors — Morgan Freeman is great fun as a mystical wizard; Will Arnett shows up as Batman; and Liam Neeson hilariously sends up his action hero persona as the two-faced Good Cop/Bad Cop. My favorite of the cameos was a surprise appearance by some “Star Wars” characters, but saying too much would spoil the fun. The dialogue is clever, and the film isn’t afraid to embrace its silly quirkiness (the list of characters includes a pirate cyborg and a cat/unicorn hybrid called “Unikitty” — yes, you read that right). But somehow, it all works, and grown-ups will laugh just as hard as kids. There’s also some surprisingly pointed satire for a kids movie.
“The LEGO Movie” does end with a somewhat expected lesson — that we all have the power to be special. However, the film presents this lesson in a unique way (I loved the twist in the ending). It’s nice to see a film celebrating creativity and imagination. I know by now I’m one of the last people to watch this movie 😉 but if you haven’t seen it yet, it’s well worth a rental, especially if you were a fan of LEGOs as a kid. OK, I’m an adult, and I still have a LEGO collection. 😉 This is a great movie for kids and for grown-ups who are still kids at heart.