John Hanlon Reviews

Film Reviews

The LEGO Movie

Genre: Family

Director: Phil Lord, Christopher Miller

Cast: Chris Pratt, Will Ferrell, Elizabeth Banks, Will Arnett, Nick Offerman, Alison Brie, Charlie Day, Liam Neeson, Morgan Freeman

MPAA-Rating: PG

Release Date: February 7th, 2014

There are few movies that are capable of savaging a person’s cynical expectations and delivering a cinematic product that is endlessly inventive, discount
delightfully thought-provoking and amusing beyond belief. The LEGO Movie was one of those films for me. A full-length feature focused on LEGO blocks has the potential to be a disastrous waste of time but this film proves that with the right creative spirit, there
a story can work far beyond its “supposed” limitations.

Emmet (voiced by Chris Pratt) is the main character here, prostate
whose life is as ordinary as it could be. He spends his days working as a construction officer and accepting the life that Lord Business (Will Ferrell), the obsessive dictator of this LEGO world, offers his citizens. At work, Emmet endlessly sings the empty but delightfully-catchy national theme song “Everything is Awesome” while at night, he watches the nation’s most popular show, “Where are My Pants?”

In this land which is oddly reminiscent of the nation that George Orwell laid out in his classic novel 1984, the citizens of this LEGO land are spied on and tortured if they step out of bounds. But things change for the sometimes simple-minded Emmet. After a seemingly innocuous encounter with the free-spirited Wyldstyle (Elizabeth Banks), he realizes that the world is about to come to an end and realizes he can help save it.

The LEGO Movie’s premise seems superficial on paper but the writing team here crafts together an insightful and admittedly meta-story that handily works for both parents and adults. (It’s ironic that The Monuments Men, which has a premise that should work but never does, also arrives in theaters this weekend.)

This feature’s self-referential spirit awakens it from its humble premise and brings this colorful world to life. Emmet, for one, is dedicated to following instructions, akin to the children who build LEGO buildings simply following the directions. But he learns to think more creatively in order to strive in his orderly world. There are also several meta jokes (and a jumping jack scene) that poke fun at the toy’s physical limitations.

Rounding out the cast of characters are an eclectic group of supporting players that bring spontaneity and freshness to the action. From the witty prophet Vitruvius (Morgan Freeman) to a cameo by the wise Abraham Lincoln (Will Forte) to an appearance by the unloved Green Lantern (Jonah Hill), the supporting players all add a layer of ingenuity to the picture.

Additionally, the team behind this film have a sophisticated knowledge of cinema and use that to their advantage. It definitely helps that Anthony Daniels and Billy Dee Williams (C-3PO and Lando from the Star Wars saga, respectively) lend their voice talents to the LEGO versions of their famous characters.

Colorful and creative, The LEGO Movie takes characters that children love— as I once did— and sublimely creates a world for them to play in. A third act twist here cements this story’s ability to think outside the box, throw away the instructions and build something out of blocks that is both fun and fulfilling. It’s easily one of the most creative films I’ve seen in a long time and will likely be one of this year’s greatest flicks.

Review by: John Hanlon