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The Lego Movie (Lord and Miller, 2014)

The Lego Movie is the best film of 2014! Granted, it’s only February and the months before summer are mostly a barren wasteland of cheap horror movies and mind-numbing romantic comedies, but The Lego Movie is a rare gem among the crap. While its super-early release date suggests a lack of faith by the studio, the film manages to exceed beyond expectations and then some. That’s saying something, quite frankly, given how easy it would be for the film to coast on the Lego premise and the colorful animation just to help the company sell some more merchandise.

The Lego Movie centers on friendly construction worker Emmet (voiced by Chris Pratt), an ordinary little Lego man living in his perfectly-assembled Lego World. Despite a friendly disposition, he frequently consults an instruction manual on how to properly live life as part of a cog in the great machine. One fateful day after finishing a shift at his construction site, he stumbles upon an ancient prophecy that could change his entire life. He meets a beautiful girl named Wyldstyle (Elizabeth Banks) and a wizard named Vitruvius (Morgan Freeman, of course), who inform him that he may not be so ordinary after all. Together, the trio attempt to put an end to the evil plans of Lord Business (Will Ferrell) and fulfill the prophecy.

The Lego franchise of toys is so expansive and all over the place that there is seemingly no limit to where the writers could go with this story, and they fully take advantage of this fact. Multiple worlds and iconic characters are explored through the film, but nothing feels cheap or lazily coasting on nostalgia. Screenwriters Phil Lord, Chris Miller, Dan Hageman and Kevin Hageman inject each scene with both sarcastic wit and broad comedy, serving to delight both children and adults in the theater. Much of the film satirizes classic “chosen one” hero stories, but it does not look down upon them.
Additionally, The Lego Movie expertly takes aim at modern-day society living under control of corporations. Through the Octan Corporation, Lord Business controls various huge aspects of the Lego society, including politics, television, music and food. As such, Lord Business hopes to distract the masses through various mediums while enforcing structure and order over creativity. Sound familiar? Without spoiling anything, the film gradually shows the importance of creativity and innovation in a world full of regulations. Emmet begins to understand his full potential despite being constantly criticized and ridiculed by those around him. The film sends a nice message that does not feel contrived or sentimental as it reaches its emotional conclusion.

The film would not have nearly the same energy or emotional resonance without the incredible voice cast. Pratt, Banks and Ferrell excel in their prominent roles, especially the goofy yet lovable Pratt. Among other notable actors lending their voices to the film are Liam Neeson, Will Arnett, Nick Offerman, Channing Tatum and Jonah Hill. Each actor gives so much zest to their characters, even those who aren’t particularly integral to the story, that the Lego world truly comes to life.

It’s easy to see why The Lego Movie has become such a success at the box office already. The rapid-fire pace and goofy characters are enough to keep even the youngest of kids entertained while the acerbic wit and more mature in-jokes keep the adults highly amused. While The Lego Movie is not a particularly original film when taking away the Lego concept, it is still one of the most highly entertaining animated movies to come around in a long time, with just the right combination of edge and honest emotion.

Grade: B+
MVP: Chris Pratt

Awards Potential:

Best Animated Feature Film
Best Original Song for “Everything is AWESOME!!!”

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