“The LEGO Movie” is an animated marvel. Directors Phil Lord and Christopher Miller (“Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs”) assembled a dream-team voice cast, paired-up with a smart, fresh script, and some of the most incredible CGI wizardry ever put on screen for what might be the best animated film we’ll see all year.
Emmet (voiced by “Parks and Recreation”‘s Chris Pratt) is an ordinary LEGO, though these characters never actually refer to themselves as LEGOs because they exist in their own universe. He’s a construction worker who relies heavily on step-by-step instruction manuals to guide him through the day. Emmet has a bright outlook on every situation, but is also lonely, though he tries hard not to notice.
But all that’s about to change. Emmet’s hometown, Brickland, and the other LEGO villages are about to be destroyed by President Business/the evil Lord Business (voiced by Will Ferrell). That is, unless The Special, the ultimate hero, can be found. Emmet accidentally stumbles upon “The Piece of Resistance”, which automatically makes him The Special. But soon everyone finds out what Emmet already knows: that he’s not special at all.
But he has help: Master Builders, led by powerful wizard Vitruvius (who else but Morgan Freeman), “bad girl” with a heart of gold Wyldstyle (Elizabeth Banks) and her boyfriend Batman (yes, Batman), along with several other colorful characters assist Emmet in this
monumental, life-and-death task.
Practically everything about “The LEGO Movie” is awesome, a reference to the film’s very catchy theme song. The inventive and ingenious multi-purpose animation is stunning from scene one, lending itself perfectly to the fast-paced action. The pacing is frenetic, with things often happening in multiple places within the same shot, yet the film is very easy for all ages to follow.
Lord and Miller outdo themselves with non-stop jokes and classic character cameos. Many are intentionally corny, others clever and hilarious: from Shaq voicing himself to the “Odd Couple” pairing of Superman (Channing Tatum) and Green Lantern (Jonah Hill) to Will Arnett’s show-stealing Batman (good luck to Ben Affleck trying to top this performance). Liam Neeson is also excellent as the classic Good Cop/Bad Cop. And there are Star Wars characters, Wonder Woman, historical figures – and everything works. The pieces, both literally and figuratively, all come together.
On one level Lord and Miller have a blast satirizing these characters, pop culture and superhero adventure films. But there’s another level to “The LEGO Movie”. The core and true emotion of the film comes in the final act with an unexpected turn that provides one of the best surprises and most rewarding endings I’ve experienced from a movie in quite a while.
“The LEGO Movie” is rated PG for the animated action/violence. It’s appropriate for everyone: from young LEGO lovers to fanboys (and girls) to adult action movie fans. This is the first fantastic movie of 2014.
On The Official LCJ Report Card, “The LEGO Movie” gets an A-.