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Strangely Dim

Francesca Battistelli

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Everything Stacks Up Superbly in "The Lego Movie"

Movies & DVDs

Release Date: February 7, 2014
Rating: PG for mild action and rude humor 
Genre: Comedy
Run Time: 100 min.
Director: Phil Lord, Christopher Miller
Cast: Chris Pratt, Elizabeth Banks, Morgan Freeman, Liam Neeson, Will Arnett, Will Ferrell


The Lego Movie had signs of being a painful experience: it's based on a toy, and is being released in early February among the other duds that dot the wintry cinematic landscape. Would it play like a mercenary, feature-length commercial for Legos? Would it try (and fail) to deliver a serious message? Would it be so frivolous that we never care about anyone or anything in the film? Even the trailer showed little promise.

Ignore the warnings. They're false alarms. The Lego Movie turns out to be a rapid-fire laugh machine that allows adults to enjoy several of its jokes. The further good news is that the film doesn’t pat itself on the back or constantly wink at the audience. It’s too busy loading the next laugh.

Our hero is Emmet (voice of Chris Pratt, Delivery Man), a construction worker Lego character who has a strict daily regimen based on written instructions. He does everything by the book, but he doesn't stand out in any way. Acquaintances refer to Emmet as a "blank slate" and a "nothing."

That's about to change. A mystic Lego named Vitruvius pegs Emmet as the fulfillment of a prophecy—the one who will save his fellow Legos from the evil plotting of Lord Business (Will Ferrell, Anchorman 2). Key to victory is the Piece of Resistance, which will lead to victory in the fight against Lord Business and his chief agent, Bad Cop (Liam Neeson, The Nut Job).

Joining Emmet in his mission to save the Legos is WildStyle (Elizabeth Banks, The Hunger Games), who journeys with him through various Lego landscapes that include the Old West, Middle Zealand and Cloud Cuckoo Land (a happy place where all negative thoughts are suppressed—barely).

The adventure will test Emmet, who, for once, has no instruction book to follow ("How does anyone know what not to do?" he exclaims in one worried moment).

The Lego Movie isn't afraid to challenge our notions of who or what we might consider heroic (Batman doesn't come off too well), even as it offers its own lessons about thinking outside the box and the importance of having a plan. However, this is no "message movie." It's a joke engine that doesn't take itself seriously and which gambles on a surreal conclusion that pays off (other reviews may give away the surprise, but not this one. It's too good to spoil). The film's closing moments deliver a gentle, family-friendly lesson, while adding even more laughs.

Writers Phil Lord and Christopher Miller, who also co-directed the film, are known for their earlier work on Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs and the film version of 21 Jump Street. They, along with visual effects pioneers Animal Logic, have created a busy, impressive, colorful Lego world that feels simultaneously like a throwback to a pre-video game era as well as an advance in film animation.

It's all rather shocking—a wildly inventive, highly enjoyable and thoroughly entertaining family film when we least expect it. Whether you're a kid who plays with Legos or an adult with fond memories of doing so as a child—or someone who just wants a clean flick with genuine laughs—The Lego Movie is a lot of fun.

CAUTIONS:

  • Language/Profanity: "butt"
  • Drinking/Smoking: Lego figures discuss going to the bar after work
  • Sex/Nudity: None; WildStyle tells Emmet she has a boyfriend, so he shouldn’t “get any ideas”; Legos Xerox their backsides
  • Violence/Crime: Cartoon-like violence, including a character who kicks another off a ledge, a plan to end the world; characters taken to a melting chamber; reckless driving; a vehicle engulfed in flames; a cop throws a huge metal cylinder at a fleeing suspect; a vehicle crashes into a train; an underwater explosion; mass destruction; a Lego is decapitated
  • Religion/Morals/MarriageA prophecy about a Lego who would save society; Emmet is said to have had a vision; characters contemplate meeting someone called "the Man Upstairs"

Publication date: February 7, 2014

Page Source (url): http://www.crosswalk.com/culture/movies/the-lego-movie-movie-review.html

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