The LEGO Movie, 2014.
Directed by Phil Lord and Chris Miller.
Featuring the voice talents of Chris Pratt, Will Ferrell, Elizabeth Banks, Will Arnett, Nick Offerman, Alison Brie, Charlie Day, Liam Neeson, Morgan Freeman, Channing Tatum, Jonah Hill and Cobie Smulders.
A regular LEGO man is mistaken for ‘The Special’ of prophecy and goes on an adventure to stop the LEGO Universe being destroyed.
The LEGO Movie is much better than it really should be. When initially announced way back when, it sounded like just another ‘cash in’ movie to make some money off the back of the Danish brick company’s success over the last few years. But, just as everyone was proven wrong with the LEGO Star Wars series of games, The LEGO Movie has silenced a lot of its critics by being an outstanding, well-written, beautifully made and simply hilarious family adventure. It’s fantastic.
Telling the story of ordinary construction worker Emmet (Chris Pratt), a man so generic they couldn’t match his face to a database, as he discovers that anyone can be special so long as they simply believe in themselves. Through a freak occurrence, he discovers The Piece of Resistance which is the only thing that can stop Lord Business (Will Farrell)’s devastating machine The Kraggle which has has the potential to destroy the entire Universe. Along with Wild Style (Elizabeth Banks), Vitruvius (Morgan Freeman) and Batman (Will Arnett), Emmet must reach his full potential to become a Master Builder and save the world.
Fans of Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs will instantly feel a level of familiarity in terms of humour and tone from directors Phil Lord and Chris Miller. The pair have a very unique skill of making children’s animated movies that act as spoofs of the genre while never being patronising to its target audience. Similarly, they never take the low road of writing gags for children and gags for adults (movies like Shrek or Shark Tale for example) and instead provide jokes for everyone to enjoy. Granted, certain references might fly over the heads of the younger viewers but none of them are detrimental to the story.
Anyone who grew up playing with LEGO will enjoy the nostalgic sight gags and you can tell that both Miller and Lord were LEGO fans growing up. The references come thick and fast from areas of the world being LEGO sets from the past (Pirates, Castle, Wild West, Space etc) to the fact that the instructions given to those who live in the Universe on how to live their lives look exactly like the instruction manuals that came with every LEGO set. Little things like Benny (the LEGO Spaceman) having the all-to-familiar crack in his helmet and missing visor shows how much Miller and Lord care about making the world feel like it was created and played with. There is a huge love for this company and their products which shines through while never feeling like a glorified commercial. Everything (and I do mean everything) in this movie is constructed from LEGO, from the fires being the familiar LEGO flame pieces to the sea and water being made up of smaller LEGO plate pieces. Even the explosions are made of LEGO. It’s incredible to think how much work went into the look of the movie and the attention to detail is phenomenal.
But what really sets this from other run-of-the-mill animated movies is that The LEGO Movie is story over gimmick. This could have easily been the Pokemon movies or The Transformers: The Movie which was made solely to further the product’s revenue stream by selling more toys, but this is a beautifully crafted story with excellent characters, hilarious cameos, laugh-out-loud humour and a huge heart. You care about every single LEGO person (no matter the size of their role) and you want to see them succeed. And at it’s very centre, The LEGO Movie highlights what makes LEGO so special – the ability to be creative and original. LEGO sets come with instructions, but it’s the imagination of those holding the pieces that really bring the sets to life.
Flickering Myth Rating – Film: ★ ★ ★ ★ / Movie: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★
Luke Owen is one of Flickering Myth’s co-editors and the host of the Flickering Myth Podcast. You can follow him on Twitter @LukeWritesStuff.