I came to the realization the other day that thus far, I’m not doing so great on catching my 20 Films of 2014. Open Grave and I, Frankenstein have both premiered, and I hardly paid any attention (though in my defense I don’t think the former ever came to a local theater, and I have heard 99% dreadful things about the latter). But this one—this one I was determined to see.
I find Lego figures to be adorable and often hilarious, so from the first trailer for The Lego Movie I was onboard. Most people remember Legos fondly from their childhood—so do I, but my interest in this film mostly stemmed from the ridiculously fun Lego videogames. Seeing some of the best nerdy franchises (DC, Marvel, Star Wars, Harry Potter, and Lord of the Rings for starters) translated to the world of Legos is just too much fun. Whether original stories or adaptations of films, Lego always comes up with games that are funny, charming, and visual treats. And I’m thrilled to share that The Lego Movie has all of these traits and more.
Synopsis: “An ordinary LEGO minifigure, mistakenly thought to be the extraordinary MasterBuilder, is recruited to join a quest to stop an evil LEGO tyrant from gluing the universe together.” –Borrowed from my favorite movie site, IMDb.
The Good: So very much, but let’s start with the cast, which is absolutely stellar. Chris Pratt is perfect as chipper, clueless Emmett, the very lovable lead Lego. Elizabeth Banks delivers as daring, sultry-voiced Wyldstyle. And as wise MasterBuilder Vitruvius, Morgan Freeman is…well, with a voice like that can you do any wrong? He’s spot-on here, though he probably could’ve just uttered nonsense syllables and still been wonderful. Also noteworthy: Will Arnett as a cocky and brooding Batman, Charlie Day as enthusiastic 1980s spaceman Benny, Alison Brie as extremely positive and slightly insane Unikitty, and—my personal favorite—Liam Neeson as Bad Cop/Good Cop/Pa Cop. Seriously, I think this is my favorite Neeson role to date, and I would like nothing more than to see footage of him recording his lines. Bad Cop/Good Cop—a single Lego figure whose head turns around to become the different characters—is one of so very many humorous elements in the film. Batman records a moody song. Unikitty has a complete meltdown. Superman (Channing Tatum) cannot escape the annoying Green Lantern (Jonah Hill). Some characters from Star Wars pop up and find themselves in unfortunate circumstances. It’s humor that appeals to all ages, and it’s glorious. The visuals are nothing short of incredible, seamlessly utilizing vivid CGI to create the Lego look and even adding a faux stop-motion touch. As for the story itself, it might borrow from some sources (especially The Matrix), but I think it’s a very solid tale. And I love the themes—celebrating the ordinary and embracing a little disorder. It’s feel-good on all levels.
Favorite scene: Benny the spaceman FINALLY gets to build a spaceship. I could not stop laughing at his sheer, unbridled excitement.
The Bad: I’ll keep this brief, as I have very little to complain about. Though I didn’t feel this way, I could see how some grumpy people might think this is shoving the Lego brand in your face. I’ve seen the film described as “the greatest commercial ever made,” but to me the film transcends any attachment to the brand. That is, I never felt like the film was selling me Legos—merely telling a story with them. But some people might disagree. Also, the cast is great, but there is one voice that sticks out like a sore thumb: Will Ferrell as the villainous President Business. I didn’t have a problem with him, per se, but I kind of wish they’d picked someone with a less recognizable voice. I know his voice tends to grate on some folks’ nerves. Other than that, I would simply warn that there’s often so much going on in this film that if you blink, you very well may miss something. It’s so jam-packed with cameos and hilarious moments that it’s difficult to take it all in.
Least favorite scene: Ultimately, I think this scene pays off, but there’s a very unexpected twist toward the end of the film that might take you out of things for a minute. The longer the scene stretched on, the more okay I was with it, but it’s so surprising and so very different from the rest of the film that it takes some adjustment.
To Sum It Up: With a near-perfect voice cast, stunning animation, a clever story, and loads of laughs, The Lego Movie has set the bar very high for animated and/or family films this year. If you have even a tiny fondness for Legos, animated films, or comedies in general, I strongly a trip to the theater for this. It’s my first must-see recommendation of 2014! P.S. Fair warning: you WILL walk away with “Everything Is Awesome” stuck in your head. It’s inevitable.
My Grade: A-
Sorry for the absence yesterday, kiddos! Going to try my very best to post every day the rest of this week because I feel like there’s SO MUCH TO DO. I saw this film on Saturday and I’m just now posting it! Yeesh! What’s happening to me?? Anyway, hope your day is brilliant so far! Happy Hump Day!