Movies based on toy franchises – from G.I. Joe to Battleship – have generally been as appealing as stepping barefoot on a Lego block in the middle of the night. The latest toy-inspired endeavour, The Lego Movie shows that every now and then an exception to the rule comes along that makes it all worthwhile.
Directors/writers Phil Lord and Christopher Miller have taken the colourful children’s toy and put it together with a solid script; one that has the high-speed and subversive, quirky humour of everything from Anchorman to Airplane. The vivid animation and non-stop action will hold the attention of youngsters, while there’s more than enough knowing winks and clever gags aimed at an older audience to reel them in.
Emmet Brickowoski (voiced by Chris Pratt) is a colourful construction worker who spends as much time working on his people skills as he does clicking together projects on the building site. His fears that his life is irrelevant are dashed when he discovers an ancient artifact that can save the Lego world from the evil plans of Lord Business (Will Ferrell).
This novice hero gets some help from the trendy Wyldstyle (Elizabeth Banks), self-assured Batman (Will Arnett), visually impaired Vitruvius (Morgan Freeman) and a bucket load of other heroes. The voice talents are dead-on, from Pratt’s goofy innocence to Freeman’s reassuring vocals that always add weight to any project. The big surprise is Arnett, whose Batman has the seriousness of Christian Bale’s take on the caped crime fighter with all the fantastic silliness of the ’60s Adam West version.
This is a movie that would be just as entertaining with the sound off. Lord and Miller have so much going on that it’s impossible to appreciate it all in one viewing. The humour not only comes from the sharp-witted script, but from a lot of visuals going on in the background.
A mix of manic pace, non-stop action and computer-generated images, the film is an explosion of visual splendor. Each frame has been put together with such loving detail that it’s impossible to fully appreciate the craftsmanship. If you want to get an idea of how much work was put in to bringing the movie to life, try building an ocean out of Legos and see how complicated it can be.
After so many attempts to launch a great movie based on a toy franchise, The Lego Movie found an entertaining way to create a funny and fun movie while remaining true to the original product. The Lego Movie peels back a deeper layer in the third act that would spoil too much if discussed and it’s addition gives the movie an added emotional punch that elevates it from being very good to wonderfully great. In years to come The Lego Movie will be held in the same regard as Toy Story for a generation of kids seeking that perfect childhood adventure.
(Images courtesy Collider, IMDb, Empire)