Mosaic / Reviews / February 12, 2014

‘Lego Movie’ surprisingly well-constructed

“The Lego Movie” is miraculous. It is with complete honesty that I say that this supposed “children’s” film is one of the most enjoyable films I have ever had the pleasure of seeing.

In an exhausting sea of R-rated crude comedies, this dark horse proves that the best humor unfailingly comes from self-awareness, sharp wordplay and, above all, inventiveness. I went into this movie with all the skepticism I should have had for my first “Transformers” viewing (talk about a toy story gone wrong), but left with a smile plastered on my face and embarrassing tears lingering on my cheeks. Co-directors Phil Lord and Christopher Miller took simple building blocks provided by a nostalgic toy company and made something that delights on multiple levels for viewers of all ages. In short, it works. “The Lego Movie” really works.

Our animated adventure begins with a Morgan Freeman-voiced bearded wizard named Vitruvius prepping himself for an impending boss battle. (The sequence is vaguely reminiscent of “The Fellowship of the Ring.”)  Amidst the fighting, a prophecy is revealed: A special fellow with “face of yellow” will one day save the world from complete destruction. In due time, we discover that our hero is a chipper little construction worker named Emmett Brickowski, voiced by the increasingly promising Chris Pratt, who, at all times, carries with him a manual for the do’s and don’ts of life. For example, if the manual states that happy people buy $37 cups of coffee, Emmett will do just that with an adorable fist-pump of self-satisfaction.

It is this blind faith in the “awesomeness” of Bricksburg that the evil President Business (Will Ferrell) depends on for the success of his nefarious plot. I won’t spoil the villain’s motivation, but rest assured it is more captivating than the typical aimless world domination/oblivion goals of so many antiheroes past.

Following a Wonderland-esque tumble into a construction hole, Emmett is mistaken as the “special” of the aforementioned prophecy, and a band of creative do-gooders arrive to assist him in saving the world. This group of unlikely companions travels through the different realms of the Lego world, sailing over a sea of plastic blue pieces, encountering the Millennium Falcon and its crew, and sauntering through the Wild Wild West.

Imagine dumping all of your Legos onto the floor and simultaneously playing with Gandalf, Superman and Abraham Lincoln. “The Lego Movie” movie does that, but relies not on said premise itself for all of its humor (and yes, all of those heroes are in the film). The characters do not constantly reference their source material; they are not mere neon signs blinking, “I am from a popular piece of entertainment you probably know and love!” They interact with the narrative, constantly bantering with surprising self-aware humor. Batman (exaggeratedly huskily-voiced by Will Arnett), for instance, is an egotistical brooder who writes songs about being an orphan. And yes, that is every bit as hilarious as it sounds.

The first half of the film is chock full of laughs. It’s quick — there’s a new zinger around every corner much like the satires of yore such as “Airplane!” and “Blazing Saddles.” This style of rapid-fire dialogue is somewhat foreign and undoubtedly welcome for modern audiences who are accustomed to shock and pot humor. The animation is eye-catching and appropriately aesthetically similar to stop-motion. Everything is lightning fast, and I look forward to catching new things each time I watch the film.

Phil Lord and Christopher Miller expertly project our own world onto the screen, making older audiences squirm with recognition of overpriced coffee consumption and contentedness with bland, formulaic music and television. A good satire — the likes of which we have not seen in too long — highlights the absurdity of reality, and “The Lego Movie” is all about that exhibition. Shockingly, though, the movie offers even more than witty commentary. I won’t say much, but just know that I cried. During the finale of “The Lego Movie.” Yes, it was a startling experience.

It is Valentine’s weekend, and you could easily choose a subpar romantic flick to see with your significant other. In fact, Hollywood counts on it. Or you could embrace your inner child and select a movie featuring talking Legos. If you do, however, choose the latter option, I implore you to please warn your date ahead of time of something: you just may end up falling in love with the movie.

Tags:  bricks film the lego movie Valentine's Day

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