Review: The LEGO Movie / Cert: U / Director: Phil Lord, Christopher Miller / Screenplay: Phil Lord, Christopher Miller, Dan Hageman, Kevin Hageman / Starring: Chris Pratt, Elizabeth Banks, Will Arnett, Morgan Freeman, Will Ferrell, Liam Neeson, Charlie Day, Nick Offerman / Release Date: Out Now
The very concept of a LEGO movie seemed absurd. What else could it be but a crass marketing ploy to extend the reach of the ubiquitous building blocks even further into the hearts and minds of children everywhere, as well as into the wallets of their parents? Yet screenwriters and directors Lord and Miller have achieved the seemingly impossible and assembled a genuinely funny, touching, inspirational and absolutely lunatic love letter to those tiny bricks, as well as to imagination and creativity in general, that can't help but bring a smile to even the most stony of faces.
In a genius use of verisimilitude, everything in the world of the film is made up of LEGO pieces (with a few very well-explained exceptions) and the animation style of the movie stays true to the restrictions this imposes. Unlike the successful line of licensed LEGO video games, from LEGO Harry Potter to LEGO Star Wars, the dimensions of the minifigs are never obviously distorted for the sake of portraying drama. Characters will never close their claw-like hands around an object, instead "snapping" onto it. Neither will they bend their non-existent elbows to scratch their face or develop a knee to bend for the sake of a dramatic pose. It really does look like a movie made out of LEGO with everything, including elements like fire and water, all available in a box of LEGO somewhere.
In this world Emmet Brickowski (Pratt) is an unassuming citizen of Brickburg, working on a construction site, blindly following "The Instructions" for every aspect of his life until he accidentally happens upon "The Piece of Resistance", the only thing capable of stopping Lord Business' (Ferrell's) evil plans. Emmet is then swept up in an adventure to different LEGO worlds, such as "The Old West", learning to embrace his creativity, encountering numerous concussions and meeting a host of heroes along the way.
This simple synopsis belies a host of incredible detail as every step on Emmet's journey is lovingly filled with blink-and-you'll-miss them background sight gags and laugh out loud jokes for all ages. The clever plot focuses on the importance of creativity and imagination and constantly throws surprises at the audience. It may be a cliché to say that providing any further detail would ruin the surprise, BUT the story takes some truly mind-boggling turns near the end that need to be experienced to be believed. A constant sense of "How did they get away with this" accompanies almost the entire movie.
What can be said is that The LEGO Movie must have been some lawyer's nightmare, as characters from all the various lines of LEGO get to interact with each other. Dumbledore and Gandalf share a scene; Superman appears numerous times, becoming increasingly irritated with Green Lantern and in an unexpected move, not only is Batman (Arnett) present, but he is one of the main characters and a major source of humour in a film littered with characters and clever references that demand repeat viewings.
The rest of the voice cast are uniformly excellent, Pratt and Banks carrying the movie easily but Liam Neeson AND Morgan Freeman really shine. Neeson gleefully sends up his recent hard man image as both sides of the Good Cop/Bad Cop trope, while Freeman's tie-dyed hippy Vitruvius plays on all the wise old man stereotypes that Freeman himself has contributed to over the years. If you listen carefully you might even catch a mini-reunion from another Lord and Miller film, 21 Jump Street.
The LEGO Movie confounds expectations and shows that there is still plenty of originality, inventiveness, fresh humour and most surprisingly of all, heart left in modern blockbusters, and it will inevitably result in a tonne of LEGO being sold.
Expected Rating: 6 out of 10