Whoever you are out there (yeah, you), you’re gonna adore The Lego Movie. I don’t care whether you’re a carefree child, a hipster college student, or a (begrudgingly) responsible adult. There’s something for everyone in this film, and I’m not even talking as a mega fan of Lego toys. My sister usually snatched all the Legos and hid them in her closet, and of course my parents always took her side. My childhood wasn’t nearly as grueling as Dustin’s was, but we all have scars. *sniff*
Even though I don’t harbor a huge Lego attachment, I can appreciate a the hell out of a finely delivered movie that is both sharp and sophisticated. The Lego Movie treads a fine line between promoting actual Lego toys and delivering a compelling set of characters to execute its story. It’s impossible to build a movie about childhood toys that doesn’t directly tie in to promoting the very subject of the film. That’s unavoidable, but Lego tries very hard to elevate itself to something higher. This film isn’t just about toys and their adventures. It creates a bonding experience that manages to unite young and old through their shared love of a common childhood past time that hasn’t changed all that much. Legos are a bit more intricate these days, but they haven’t been given a sexy makeover like, say, Strawberry Shortcake. They’re not thinner and sleeker like My Little Ponies. (Edit: There is a Lego Friends line? My bad. 2012 is out of the scope of my daughter’s Lego experience.) There are no opportunities for slo-mo boobs as with the Transformers franchise. Legos are the perfect ingredient for a nearly perfect nostalgic experience.
For the most part, the actors don’t stretch too far in their given roles, but their familiar schtick suits the movie. Will Ferrell is once again playing an eeeevil entity named Lord Business while Morgan Freeman checks in to voice a benevolent authority figure, a wizard called Vitruvius. Lord Business transforms himself into President Business and seeks to control the citizens of Bricksburg by not allowing them outside their neatly designed boxes. No mixing pieces between playsets! Everyone plays their rule with no deviation. Pres. Business dreams of executing a plan that would Kragel (Crazy Glue) all of the Lego buildings together — so no one could ever break the rules with their terrible imaginations ever again. The movie also features a godlike presence called The Man Upstairs, whose role is indispensable.
Fortunately, Vitruvius predicts how a Master Builder will someday influence the Lego world and free its citizens from the Business rules. That mythical figure may be Emmet (Chris Pratt) is a construction worker who, at first, is content to blindly follow along and not buck the tide. He builds buildings according to prescribed convention and does so while singing the Bricksburg anthem, “Everything Is Awesome.” Everything changes when he falls in love at first sight with a Lego-goth named Wyldstyl (Elizabeth Banks). One thing leads to another, and Emmet finds himself in possession of the Piece of Resistance that will, ideally, aid him in leading a revolution. It all sounds quite predictable the way I’m describing it, but the story moves from there into unexpected territory.
Since this is a children’s movie which requires voice work, Will Arnett must be involved. He plays Batman and has a lot of fun digging at the Batman persona and, um, singing a heavy metal song. Jonah Hill pops up as Green Lantern, and Charming Potato voices Superman. Those last two can’t stand each other, which is suitably delivered. Many other characters step into the fray, including C-3PO (Anthony Daniels), Shaquille O’Neal (himself) from the NBA All-Stars set, Unikitty (Alison Brie) and a pirate called Metal Beard (Nick Offerman). All are a cleverly subversive surprises to witness.
All of this sounds frenetic and like too much is smashed into the movie for the sake of it, but that’s just part of the plan. The Lego Movie is built for excess and pulls it off marvelously. Most importantly, the film does not follow the prescribed animation tropes. Not only does this movie look fantastic, but so much care went into the script that I have to bow down just a little bit. You don’t get this kind of unexpected satisfaction very often in the realm of kiddie flicks. The Lego Movie is not only surprising because it’s not a let down but because it celebrates the sense of surprise. Go forth and build.
Bedhead lives in Tulsa, Oklahoma. She and her little black heart can be found at Celebitchy.