!!!WARNING!!! – This review contains SLIGHT SPOILERS. I don’t feel that they’ll hinder your enjoyment of the film, but those sensitive to such things may want to tread lightly!
Anyone who knows me at all, knows that I am in love with LEGOs. I am a 29-year-old man, and have an embarrassingly large collection of LEGOs on display in my office, with no intention of stopping anytime soon. So when I went into the theater for The LEGO Movie, to say that my expectations were high would be a rather drastic understatement. Sure LEGOs are wonderful to build at home on my kitchen table, sure the TT Games developed video games are charming, but could LEGO really make a splash on the big screen?
Yes. It turns out that they most certainly can, to put it quite simply. Though I suppose I should make the point that in this case the “they” I am referring to is the incredibly capable duo of Phil Lord and Christopher Miller, the minds behind great comedies like 21 Jump Street and great family films like Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs and Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs 2. And so the family comedy that The LEGO Movie turned out to be does become slightly less surprising, though not still without plenty of merit. What it does best in its humor is to walk the line between getting a laugh from one half of its audience, the kids, and then turn around and get another laugh from the other half, the adults. I got to see the film in an almost sold out theater during a sunday matinée and it was incredibly easy to notice which demographic a particular joke would hit with. As a parent, this made me excited to make a return visit with my son next week, and as a lover of film, it spoke to how well the film straddled that line, and in doing so made a film that could appeal to an incredibly broad audience.
The LEGO Movie is all about Emmet Brickowoski (Chris Pratt), a construction worker who lives his life by the rigorous instructions one would expect to find in any box of LEGOs. It’s the way that I, as the meticulous personality I am, put together the LEGOs I build. And as the film’s unbelievably catchy and only the slightest bit irritating song Everything is AWESOME!!! (Yup, that’s how it’s listed on the official soundtrack, click to listen) tells us, as long as you carefully follow those instructions, everything will be alright. Seeing Emmet read his instructions, which are glued on LEGO bricks, is also the first time I really began to appreciate the attention to detail that the animators had when crafting the entirely LEGO world. No detail is spared, from the obvious point of every last item being made of LEGO brick, to the more subtle details like bricks and characters being worn or scratched. Getting back to Emmet though, he finds himself struggling to fit into the world, even when carefully following his instructions, and it’s during one of these times, while chasing after the illusive Wyldstyle (Elizabeth Banks), that he mistakenly stumbles upon the Piece of Resistance. The Piece of Resistance being the item needed to defeat the evil Lord Business (Will Ferrell), who Emmet knows only as President Business in his world. This begins Emmet’s journey from completely ordinary into a Master Builder, or someone can simply see a design in their minds and then create it, with no instruction or guidance required. Teaming up with Wyldstyle and Vitruvius (Morgan Freeman) against Lord Business and his minions as they attempt to lock the world into place using the devastating power of the Kragle. Along the way both adventure and hilarity ensue, with fantastic pacing and very few jokes that miss.
One of the most important and impressive parts of The LEGO Movie is the immense amount of cameos they manage to squeeze in, without ever making it feel forced. We get quick glances at Ninja Turtles, DC characters like Batman (Will Arnett), Superman (Channing Tatum), Green Lantern (Jonah Hill), and even The Flash, as well as characters that never existed in the LEGO universe before the film, like Abraham Lincoln (Will Forte) and William Shakespeare (Jorma Taccone). We even get to see Star Wars characters like Han (Keith Ferguson), Lando (Billy Dee Williams), and C-3PO (Anthony Daniels), and a special “It’s Game Time!” line from Shaq himself! I could go on forever, but the point is, the cast of characters as well as the cast of voice talent is insane, and not a single one of those moments is wasted.
Speaking of the impressive cast, it’s hard to know where to start. With all the guest spots in the film the list of household names is staggering, but I’ll try to limit my discussion to two types of actors — those that are central to the film and those that make quick but extremely impressionable appearances. Chris Pratt is the star in the cast of central characters, voicing Emmet perfectly, with a style similar to Andy, his character from Parks & Recreation. His comedic timing is spot on from start to finish and he does something a larger name in a voice over role usually cannot — he becomes Emmet, instead of Pratt simply voicing Emmet. Also central to the film are Morgan Freeman and Elizabeth Banks. The former speaks completely for himself, as Freeman’s voice might just be the most recognizable on the planet, and his skill remains on par here as well. The later though was a lesser known quantity, and Banks does a delightful job with WyldStyle. In a less prominent role, but nonetheless the most memorable of the entire film for me, is Jonah Hill as Green Lantern. Between his recent work on The Wolf of Wall Street and now his brief, yet brilliant, spot in The LEGO Movie, Hill is slowly becoming one of my favorite actors. Charlie Day also has a few brief but wonderful moments, playing Benny, the 80’s astronaut who lives to build spaceships, but rarely is able to do so. The cast overall is incredibly strong, and minus Harrison Ford not voicing Han Solo, an admittedly sad bit of news, there are really no weak links here.
The LEGO Movie is fun from beginning to end, with a twist or two to keep it interesting and an all-star cast that brings life to characters both new and old. There are laughs for the little ones and laughs for us grown-ups as well, and there is something to be said for a film that is truly for the entire family, not simply watched by the entire family. Whether you have always lover building LEGOs or have never put two bricks together in your entire life, do yourself a favor and head to the theater before it’s too late, I for one don’t think you’ll regret the decision. Just remember — everything is AWESOME!!!