This week I went and saw The Lego Movie in theaters. When I initially heard that there was going to be a movie that was somehow a Lego tie-in, my initial reaction was something along the lines of “That sounds pretty fucking stupid but whatever.” Then the critics began to write reviews about it and universally everyone was saying that it was a genius work of comedy and was perfect for any audience and on and on. I was still dubious. I decided to actually watch the trailer since I hadn’t seen anything from the movie yet. I was less dubious. Then I finally broke down and decided to find out what all the hype was about.
The hype, as it turns out, is about an incredibly well crafted movie that uses the world and ideas of the Lego brand in a manner reminiscent of Toy Story and yet still wholly its own. The directors behind the movie are Phil Lord and Christopher Miller. These are the same people that continually give us movies that are massively better than their source material has any right to be. 21 Jump Street, Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs, and Clone High. All these, like The Lego Movie, have these base premises that you would assume would be just awful and yet end up being far more intelligent and clever than you had hoped. It’s gotten to the point that if I see them attached to anything from now on, I’m not even going to even question them on whether or not the plot or material sounds stupid.
The basic plot of the film is very much your standard hero’s journey but it is also hyper-aware that it is a standard hero’s journey plot. The main character is a nobody that suddenly finds out that he’s The Special, a super amazing hero that is totally the most intelligent and interesting person in the whole universe. Along the way he learns his potential and what being a hero is all about. It doesn’t sound all that innovative but trust me when I say that the way it is handled amazingly well. The main villain is President Business (voiced by Will Ferrell) and you can totally see why Fox News would accuse the movie of being “anit-business” but it’s also fairly anti-mass produced media like Fox News as well. More than that, though, the movie is really about creativity and not allowing yourself to see only one way that things should be, which makes it a great fit on the whole Lego theme.
The voice acting in the film was also particularly well done. Casting Will Arnett to be the voice of Batman was just inspired. Liam Neeson gets to play Bad Cop, a role that is very much making fun of the trend of Liam Neeson taking roles where he is the gruff-voiced badass. You have Morgan Freeman as Vitruvius the wise master builder, also playing with the trend of Morgan Freeman getting cast as the wise old guy that helps the hero. It also has a vast array of celebrities doing a bunch of bit parts like Jonah Hill as Green Lantern continually trying to be best friends with Superman. The timing on the delivery of the lines are all great and the script does a good job of balancing out the clever humor and some more of the goofy, random humor.
This hasn’t even gotten into the appearance of the film, which really looks like they used actual Legos for the movie. They didn’t, of course, because that would have taken forever but the CGI never feels like CGI but instead evokes the feel of old stop-motion type animation films. I give the movie a 5 out of 5 and I definitely suggest seeing the movie at some point if at all possible.
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