“The LEGO Movie” picks up the pieces for animated movies ★★★★★



The LEGO Movie is one of the best animated films in recent years.

Even with Oscar season and hype surrounding Disney’s Frozen on the minds of moviegoers everywhere, Warner Brothers’ The LEGO Movie has managed to work its way to the top of the box office and into the hearts of kids of all ages- across America and the world. With near-unanimous positive reviews (in fact, the only major critic to dislike it was the New York Post’s Kyle Smith, and if he dislikes a movie it’s often a good thing) and approval from fans everywhere.

Is the hype justified, however? The answer to that, indubitably, is yes. The LEGO Movie does not disappoint.

“LEGO” pulls no punches. It is an honest, from-the-heart creativity fest that provides a fervent “u wot, m8?” to perfectionists, snobs, conservatives, liberals, and adults in general. It appears blatantly capitalist on the outside, intent on showing the benefits of creativity and competition and the negatives of conformity and group effort (and, more importantly, selling LEGOs). On the inside, however, it makes the only compromises it needs to by promoting teamwork and cooperation in the best and least condescending way it can, by showing just how awesome it is when people come together and use their individual talents to do something, well, awesome. It’s hard to think of a better word than “awesome” to describe the film’s warmhearted message. It is amiable, colorful, and immutably creative.

The star of LEGO is Emmett (Chris Pratt), a normal, conformist guy who literally lives his life by the instructions set forth on him by his society run by the evil (yet, in a very Kim Jong Un style, followed without question) President Business, played hilariously by Will Ferrell in potentially the greatest role of his life. Considering Ferrell is one of the greatest comedy actors working today, this isn’t a recognition given lightly.

Of course, Emmett’s normality and subordination to Mr. Business wasn’t to be, and one night he notices a girl, Wyldstyle, messing around with bricks she shouldn’t be touching and follows her into a strange hole a-la Chronicle in which he finds a strange artifact called the “Piece of Resistance” which leads him to be captured and interrogated by Bad Cop (Liam Neeson, awesome as always).

Emmett is considered by these men to be some sort of chosen one, a master builder, though he doesn’t believe it. But when Wyldstyle sweeps him off of his feet again after rescuing him from Bad Cop’s grasp, his journey of discovery begins as he is told by the prophet Vitruvius (Morgan Freeman) that he will be the one to save the world from President Business. The rest is history.

What follows is a no-holds-barred, delightful adventure involving the wild west, medieval castles, pirate ships, anarchistic rainbow lands (there isn’t really a better place to describe the scene without making a My Little Pony reference), Roman-style congress buildings (the scene that includes this is one of the greatest in animated movie history, including more fan service than the entire Avengers movie), and, of course, LEGO cities. There are so many characters populating the movie it shouldn’t have worked, but the film cares about them all so much it is benefited from the ensemble rather than hindered by it.

Of course, there are standouts. As Batman, Will Arnett is genius, perfectly satirizing the Dark Knight’s, well, darkness and providing comic relief at the same time. A scene in which he displays a song he has written is one of the biggest laughs of the movie. Other characters that impress are Jonah Hill’s Green Lantern, who is probably the best Green Lantern of all time, and Charlie Day as Benny, who provides probably the biggest laugh of the movie with the culmination of his “spaceship” joke, the best running joke in a kid’s movie since Spanish-speaking Buzz Lightyear in Toy Story 3.

All the jokes, references, slight “political” messages, and voice performances add up to a climax and twist reveal that is so good is has many viewers out of their seats clapping obnoxiously within seconds. It’s that good.

The movie as a whole is a glorious accomplishment for animation, which, after a two or three-year long dry spell, is back with a vengeance. LEGO is a nostalgia-inducing, side-splitting, life-changing experience in cinema. It is seriously one of the greatest pieces of art ever put to the screen.