Starring: Chris Pratt (Parks & Recreation), Will Ferrell (Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues), Elizabeth Banks (The Hunger Games), Will Arnett (Arrested Development), Liam Neeson (Taken), Morgan Freeman (The Dark Knight)
Writers/Directors: Phil Lord & Christopher Miller (Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs)
Runtime: 1 hour 40 minutes
Release Date: 7 February (US), 14 February (UK)
I know what some of you are thinking. “They made a movie about LEGO? Hollywood has officially run out of ideas!” And to that I say “Calm down!” Every concept has the potential to make a great movie, and remember that this comes from the same guys who brought us Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs and 21 Jump Street, two other properties that seemed pointless to make movies of but they both turned out excellent. And I’m overjoyed to report that The LEGO Movie is even better than you could possibly imagine.
The basic plot of the movie is your standard Joseph Campbell tale: ordinary guy is discovered as prophesised saviour and goes on adventure to save the world. If you’ve seen Star Wars, The Matrix or other such films, you know the drill. But the film is very much aware of how clichéd it all is and takes every opportunity to take the piss out of itself. Every familiar aspect of this type of story is commented upon and ripped to shreds, pointing out how tired this formula whilst celebrating it at the same time. And that self-awareness applies to every aspect of the film. The filmmakers clearly know that the idea of making a LEGO movie is somewhat ridiculous, but take full advantage of it and utilise the license to the fullest. Whilst the base story is familiar, all of the elements surrounding it are ridiculous, inventive, and ridiculously inventive. That and the film is just gut-bustingly hilarious. Every moment is packed with jokes, often multi-layered ones, and a good majority are guaranteed to make you laugh. Whether it’s a funny line, an inventive use of animation or just one of the many surprise cameos, I’d find it hard to believe that anyone could come out of this movie without laughing at least once, and anyone who does clearly never had a childhood. And the jokes aren’t just for the kids; The LEGO Movie has plenty of gags for all the children-at-heart watching as well, making it a wonderfully enjoyable experience for everyone. It even has a layer of social satire, commenting on how our world has become controlled by the media and the questionable nature of authority. The film wraps this all up with a hearty message about the joys of imagination and creativity that seams perfectly with the child-like nature of the movie. It’s when what could be just a silly kids’ film goes that extra mile to be more than what it is on the surface that you know that you’ve got something special.
The cast of The LEGO Movie is jam-packed with talent playing a multitude of characters, but they aren’t great just because of who’s playing them. It’s great because these characters are so memorable that the actors just add to how great they are. Chris Pratt’s Emmet embodies that standard ‘insert-yourself-here’ protagonist, but fills him with such life and humour that you can’t help but like him. Think Neo mixed with Philip J. Fry, and you’ve got the jist of Emmet. Will Ferrell is wonderful as the evil Lord Business, balancing menacing and comedic to perfect effect. Elizabeth Banks’ Wyldstyle is honestly one of the best female characters in animated film history: strong and intelligent but without stripping her of humour or her femininity. Will Arnett constantly steals the show as Batman (yes, you read that right), filling the film with awesome amounts of deadpan that perfectly plays against his dark persona. Charlie Day’s Benny the Spaceman is like a shot of adrenaline, injecting his trademark fast-paced delivery into the character. Liam Neeson’s Good Cop/Bad Cop allows him to play both an exaggerated version of himself and the complete opposite of himself that are both hilarious to behold. Morgan Freeman’s Vitruvious is the perfect parody of the mentor figure (and most of the characters Freeman plays in general) and his serious delivery just adds to it all. Alison Brie’s Uni-Kitty is one of the cutest things ever to exist and Nick Offerman’s Metalbeard is a lot of fun too. All of these characters are unique and colourful, all with their own ticks and jokes that keep the film lively. And on top of all of that, there are loads of cameos of varying degrees that are sure to please the most dedicated of LEGO-maniacs and nerds in general. I won’t spoil them for you here because the trailers haven’t, but trust me they will please immensely.
If being funny and creative wasn’t awesome enough. The LEGO Movie is a technical marvel too. Taking a nod from the thousands of LEGO shorts you can find on YouTube, everything in the movie has been created out of LEGO. Yes, everything. Not just the characters and locations, but all of the explosions, lasers and even the water is made out of LEGO. The way they’ve made the CGI move and flow like stop-motion is seamless and engrossing; you will lose yourself in how gorgeous this movie looks. The music is also very catchy, especially the film’s ever-present theme “Everything is Awesome”, which will stay stuck in your head long after you leave the cinema. And fitting too, as no film’s theme has better described the its own quality.
It may seem a bit much to gush about a film so early in the year but I can’t help it. The LEGO Movie is a flawless piece of entertainment. It combines the fast-paced tenacity of Edgar Wright, the satirical edge of Paul Verhoeven, the warm message of any Pixar production, and all held together with the limitless imagination of a child. This is a film clearly made by people who grew up with and loved LEGO, and have done their utmost to capture that sense of creativity and wonderment anyone has found themselves in when playing with them. Phil Lord & Christopher Miller have again proved themselves to be wonderfully gifted filmmakers and I wish they could take a shot at every property under the sun because I know they’d do a good job of it. It is an instant animated classic, and in the years to come I’m sure it will be looked back on with fond memories and inspire others to follow in its path. Whether you have kids or not, go see this movie immediately. It is guaranteed to make you smile, laugh and reminisce of a simpler time. I could go on and on, but I’ll stop to let myself catch my breath. But in case you didn’t get it: THIS MOVIE IS AWESOME!
FINAL VERDICT: 10/10!