Everything is awesome!
Who would have thought a film about Lego could be this subversive, irreverent and fun?No doubt anyone over the age of ten probably approached The Lego Movie with a degree of trepidation. Surely a glorified advert for a kid’s toy couldn’t be any good? Well think again because, in the hands of the writer/director team of Phil Lord and Christopher Miller, The Lego Movie is one of the most enjoyable films you will see this year - regardless of how old you are.
The film’s plot centres around a very ordinary construction worker, Lego mini-figure called Emmet Brickowoski who is mistakenly thought to be the extraordinary MasterBuilder. Emmet finds himself recruited into a quest to stop an evil tyrant from gluing the Lego universe together. That’s the basic story but within it Lord and Miller mix enough action, comedy, emotion and satire to please even the most jaded of souls.
We probably shouldn’t be surprised that The Lego Movie is as good as it is because Lord and Miller have a track record of taking unlikely projects and injecting them with enough heart and soul to defy expectations. They previously wrote and directed the 3D animated feature Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs, which was both charming and very funny. They then directed 21 Jump Street, the big screen version of an eighties TV series best known for starring a young Johnny Depp. No one expected 21 Jump Street to be any good but thanks to Lord and Miller and the clever casting of Jonah Hill and Channing Tatum the film was a huge success.
Now they’ve taken what could have been a glorified advert for Lego and injected it with imagination, emotion and an anarchic spirit. The jokes come thick and fast and they work on multiple levels, which will keep both the parents and the kids happy. Considering the inherent built-in advertising for a film about a single product, Lord and Miller are more than happy to take potshots at big business (the villain is even called Lord Business) and our homogenous consumer culture. There’s a wonderful running gag about how much a cup of coffee costs in Lego Land and the bland uniformity of everyone doing what’s expected of them.
The level of satire is quite surprising from a kid’s film making The Lego Movie all the more rewarding.
Lord Business hides his nefarious plan to glue the Lego universe together by distracting the population with a silly but annoyingly catchy song (Everything is Awesome) and a TV show called ‘Where are my Pants?’ This level of satire is quite surprising from a kid’s film but makes The Lego Movie all the more rewarding. As you would expect from a product that is such an integral part of everyones’ lives, there are pop culture references galore. There hasn’t been a major film franchise in recent years without some kind of Lego tie-in and the film reflects this with a cast of famous characters.
The film is produced by Warner Bros. which gives them access to a fairly large number of pop culture icons already, including those owned by DC Comics - Batman, Superman, Wonder Woman and Green Lantern all appear in the film. The studio also produced the Harry Potter and Lord of the Rings movies, so we get Gandalf and Dumbledore as well. However perhaps the most successful Lego tie-in of recent years has been with Lucasfilm, which has spawned numerous Lego toys and video games. Presumably with the approval of Disney, who now own Lucasfilm, the arrival of the Millennium Falcon is a genuine highpoint, made all the more amusing by the use of Anthony Daniels for the voice of C-3PO and Billy Dee Williams as the voice of Lando Calrissian.
In fact the quality of the voice cast is uniformly excellent and this is certainly one of the reasons that the film is so successful. Chris Pratt heads up the cast as Emmet, the construction worker everyman or should that be everymini-figure? He’s ably supported by the always reliable Will Arnett as a self-centred Batman and Elizabeth Banks as Wyldstyle a female MasterBuilder and love interest. As Vitruvius, an old wizard and MasterBuilder, we have Morgan Freeman, who can play this kind of role in his sleep but remains very funny throughout.
The main villain is voiced by Will Ferrell, who again is perfect casting, whilst Liam Neeson is a joy as Bad Cop/Good Cop, the main henchman whose head swivels around depending on whether he’s good or bad. In other roles we have Channing Tatum voicing Superman, Jonah Hill as Green Lantern, Cobie Smulders as Wonder Woman and Alison Brie playing Princess Unikitty, a unicorn/anime kitten hybrid that lives in Cloud Cuckoo Land.
The quality of the voice cast is uniformly excellent and this is certainly one of the reasons that the film is so successful.
The animation in the film was done by an Australian company called Animal Logic and is a triumph of energy and imagination. Whilst the film is computer generated, the style deliberately mimics the look of stop motion animation and everything in Lego Land is created using Lego blocks. The film manages to take those little plastic bricks and create an epic and truly immersive universe that stays true to the appeal of Lego itself. Whether you see the movie in 2D or 3D, the images on display are a treat for the eyes.
It’s ironic that a film about a construction toy should so cleverly deconstruct the children’s animated feature, delivering a smart and satisfying experience that will please all the family. If you’re looking for a film with witty dialogue, great action set pieces, funny jokes, biting social satire and genuine heart, then look no further than The Lego Movie.
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