Digesting the lowest rung of pop culture so you don't have to!
I saw The Lego Movie
February 17, 2014Posted by on
Children’s entertainment can pretty much go either way for adults. Generally speaking, it can be either entertaining and a solid waste of time for both children and adults, or it can be insipid, mind-numbing crap so bad that it makes you wonder how anyone could watch it, small children or otherwise. Thankfully, the last ten years or so has been filled with amusing children’s entertainment suitable for adults as well, mostly thanks to the efforts of studios like Pixar. Disney has caught on as well, releasing Wreck-It Ralph and then Frozen in simultaneous years. Even Dreamworks has gotten in on this, with last year’s The Croods being a fairly pleasant diversion. The latest in this trend is The Lego Movie, stemming from an unlikely source in Warner Bros. Animation.
Warner’s biggest hits in the field of animation include both Happy Feet films, and the second one was a pretty notable flop back in 2011. So when The Lego Movie was announced, you could be forgiven for not being all that interested. Fortunately, the film stems mainly from the minds of Phil Lord and Chris Miller, the creative pair responsible for MTV’s cult hit Clone High as well as 2012’s well-liked 21 Jump Street feature film adaptation/remake. With Parks and Recreation’s Chris Pratt as the main character Emmet, The Hunger Games’ Elizabeth Banks voicing the rebellious Wyldstyle, and comedy stalwart Will Ferrell bringing life to the big bad Lord Business (president of the dubious Octan Corporation as well as the city of Bricksburg), The Lego Movie boasts considerable acting talent. And while it doesn’t always hit its mark, it is an admirable and entertaining effort well worth the time.
When President Business steals the mysterious Kragle (a Macguffin I won’t spoil in this review), it is up to regular, everyday Lego minifigure/construction worker Emmet to fulfill the prophecy foretold by ancient wizard Vitruvius (Morgan Freeman) and save the world with the help of Wyldstyle, Batman (voice of Will Arnett), the dread pirate Metal Beard (Nick Offerman), Uni-Kitty (Alison Brie), and 1980s spaceman Benny (Charlie Day). Together they must unite to stop President Business as well as his henchman Bad Cop (Liam Neeson) from their nefarious plot and save the day for the Lego universe (which includes, in addition to Bricksburg, a pirate land, wild west land, and “Middle Zealand” – an obvious reference to Lord of the Rings as well as the popular knight-themed Lego sets of the 1980s).
While the film is light on plot, it is fast, energetic, colorful, frenetically paced, fairly funny, and often incredibly charming. The script is filled with decent quips and jokes throughout its running time, many of which are based on the Lego characters’ limited movements (doing “jumping jacks” side to side for example) or their ability to tear down an entire city and construct the same thing again every single day as a viable job. The voice talent is considerably strong throughout, with Arnett’s performance as Batman being a notable highlight. Arnett portrays him as a spoiled, snotty jerk type of character, which is a total 180 from how you might expect Batman to act. Ferrell is also great as Lord Business – perfectly cast I would say. Chris Pratt’s energy and dumb optimism makes for a great blank slate character as well. Oh, and the music – done by Mark Mothersbaugh – is fantastic.
The Lego Movie is a trifle for sure, however. There’s not that much dept there, certainly not as much found in something like Ratatouille or Toy Story 3. The script is fast and well paced, but it can also be shallow in areas and relies on a lot of character cameos and a few dumb gags. There’s a bit of sentimentality towards the end that isn’t entirely earned, but it is fairly well done – I won’t spoil it here, but I was not expecting where it took the story. I’m not sure if I liked it, but it was different and I will at least give it credit for that. There’s still a ton of creativity to be found in this movie. I imagine it will appeal more to adults than kids, but I still had a good time throughout its thankfully average 100-minute running time (any more time spent in this film would have just been superfluous). Check it out for a fun, if not particularly deep, time at the movies.