“The Lego Movie” might be one of the most enjoyable films of 2014.
No, I’m not being facetious.
Apart from being perhaps one of the greatest pieces of toy advertising ever produced, the movie also happens to be a beautifully crafted, well-acted, and surprisingly thought-provoking piece of art.
Plus, it’s about one of the greatest toys to ever come out of the late 20th century.
Emmet Brickowski (Chris Pratt) is an average construction worker living in a pseudo-dystopic Lego metropolis, where he spends his days on a tightly regimented path of unquestioned “happiness” and $30 lattes. Lord Business (Will Ferrell), the film’s villain, is obsessed with order and uniformity, and after eight long years of hunting down the universe’s “master builders”—the Legos that refuse to conform—is planning on using a super weapon to put an end to creativity forever. Simple-minded Emmet eventually obtains the only thing capable of ending Lord Business’s reign, and is soon caught in a game of cat and mouse with Business’s forces of evil.
From the very beginning of the movie, the pace is fast. Little time is wasted on exposition and this isn’t a bad thing. The film’s animation is so absurdly beautiful that it’s an actual treat to continually change scenes and see what new settings—all made of Legos—will be revealed. Every space in the film is lovingly crafted, from Emmet’s home city—a bustling metropolis where construction workers replace unique buildings with uniformed apartment complexes while a poppy “Everything is Awesome” song blares on repeat for hours on end—to the “Old West” and “Middle Zealand.”
Lead Animator Chris McKay, known for his work on “Adult Chicken,” makes incredibly thorough use of the Lego aesthetic. Every piece of animation in the film is made of Lego parts—the water in Emmet’s shower, for example, is made entirely of blocks—and the characters break apart and rearrange their world in increasingly novel and visually stunning ways. Plus, the lighting in the scenes is Hollywood-grade, resulting in some outrageously beautiful cinematography. It’s not simply animation: McKay maintains an almost stop-motion feel by making the characters move around the world like the toys they are.
Plus, the film is genuinely funny. Like any good children’s film, the movie’s humor is only half-geared toward the young audience members. This is where the film’s rip-roaring pace pays off, with characters blurting out one-liners before turning alley-trash into racecars. Lord Business’s top henchman, a cop who alternates between “good” and “bad” by swirling his face around, throws chairs in nearly every scene, and the cameo appearances of a whole slew of franchise characters—Shaquille O’Neal, Gandalf and Dumbledore, to name a few—are legitimately amusing and not mere name-drops.
The film also plays with some profound themes, all while bringing up questions about the limits of corporate control and the need for creativity in a world where people are defined by how well they follow “the instructions.” This might seem ironic, considering that Lego is a business with an obvious interest in selling toys with instruction manuals, but the film never takes itself too seriously and, near the end, takes an abrupt turn that is surprisingly human and endearing.
Whether you spent your youth huddled on the living room floor playing with these multicolored bricks, or if you’re simply interested in a beautifully animated film, “The Lego Movie” is worth it. There’s almost too much to say about why this movie is so great, so do yourself a favor and stop reading this review and just go and see it for yourself. You won’t be disappointed.